Less Wrong is a community blog devoted to refining the art of human rationality. Please visit our About page for more information.

Building Weirdtopia

28 Post author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 12 January 2009 08:35PM

Followup toEutopia is Scary

"Two roads diverged in the woods.  I took the one less traveled, and had to eat bugs until Park rangers rescued me."
        —Jim Rosenberg

Utopia and Dystopia have something in common: they both confirm the moral sensibilities you started with.  Whether the world is a libertarian utopia of the non-initiation of violence and everyone free to start their own business, or a hellish dystopia of government regulation and intrusion—you might like to find yourself in the first, and hate to find yourself in the second; but either way you nod and say, "Guess I was right all along."

So as an exercise in creativity, try writing them down side by side:  Utopia, Dystopia, and Weirdtopia.  The zig, the zag and the zog.

I'll start off with a worked example for public understanding of science:

  • Utopia:  Most people have the equivalent of an undergrad degree in something; everyone reads the popular science books (and they're good books); everyone over the age of nine understands evolutionary theory and Newtonian physics; scientists who make major contributions are publicly adulated like rock stars.
  • Dystopia:  Science is considered boring and possibly treasonous; public discourse elevates religion or crackpot theories; stem cell research is banned.
  • Weirdtopia:  Science is kept secret to avoid spoiling the surprises; no public discussion but intense private pursuit; cooperative ventures surrounded by fearsome initiation rituals because that's what it takes for people to feel like they've actually learned a Secret of the Universe and be satisfied; someone you meet may only know extremely basic science, but they'll have personally done revolutionary-level work in it, just like you.  Too bad you can't compare notes.

Disclaimer 1:  Not every sensibility we have is necessarily wrong.  Originality is a goal of literature, not science; sometimes it's better to be right than to be new.  But there are also such things as cached thoughts.  At least in my own case, it turned out that trying to invent a world that went outside my pre-existing sensibilities, did me a world of good.

Disclaimer 2:  This method is not universal:  Not all interesting ideas fit this mold, and not all ideas that fit this mold are good ones.  Still, it seems like an interesting technique.

If you're trying to write science fiction (where originality is a legitimate goal), then you can write down anything nonobvious for Weirdtopia, and you're done.

If you're trying to do Fun Theory, you have to come up with a Weirdtopia that's at least arguably-better than Utopia.  This is harder but also directs you to more interesting regions of the answer space.

If you can make all your answers coherent with each other, you'll have quite a story setting on your hands.  (Hope you know how to handle characterization, dialogue, description, conflict, and all that other stuff.)

Here's some partially completed challenges, where I wrote down a Utopia and a Dystopia (according to the moral sensibilities I started with before I did this exercise), but inventing a (better) Weirdtopia is left to the reader.


  • Utopia:  The world is flat and ultra-efficient.  Prices fall as standards of living rise, thanks to economies of scale.  Anyone can easily start their own business and most people do.  Everything is done in the right place by the right person under Ricardo's Law of Comparative Advantage.  Shocks are efficiently absorbed by the risk capital that insured them.
  • Dystopia:  Lots of trade barriers and subsidies; corporations exploit the regulatory systems to create new barriers to entry; dysfunctional financial systems with poor incentives and lots of unproductive investments; rampant agent failures and systemic vulnerabilities; standards of living flat or dropping.
  • Weirdtopia: _____


  • Utopia:  Sexual mores straight out of a Spider Robinson novel:  Sexual jealousy has been eliminated; no one is embarrassed about what turns them on; universal tolerance and respect; everyone is bisexual, poly, and a switch; total equality between the sexes; no one would look askance on sex in public any more than eating in public, so long as the participants cleaned up after themselves.
  • Dystopia:  10% of women have never had an orgasm.  States adopt laws to ban gay marriage.  Prostitution illegal.
  • Weirdtopia: _____


  • Utopia:  Non-initiation of violence is the chief rule. Remaining public issues are settled by democracy:  Well reasoned public debate in which all sides get a free voice, followed by direct or representative majority vote.  Smoothly interfunctioning Privately Produced Law, which coordinate to enforce a very few global rules like "no slavery".
  • Dystopia:  Tyranny of a single individual or oligarchy.  Politicians with effective locks on power thanks to corrupted electronic voting systems, voter intimidation, voting systems designed to create coordination problems.  Business of government is unpleasant and not very competitive; hard to move from one region to another.
  • Weirdtopia: _____


  • Utopia:  All Kurzweilian prophecies come true simultaneously.  Every pot contains a chicken, a nanomedical package, a personal spaceship, a superdupercomputer, amazing video games, and a pet AI to help you use it all, plus a pony.  Everything is designed by Apple.
  • Dystopia:  Those damned fools in the government banned everything more complicated than a lawnmower, and we couldn't use our lawnmowers after Peak Oil hit.
  • Weirdtopia:  _____


  • Utopia:  Brain-computer implants for everyone!  You can do whatever you like with them, it's all voluntary and the dangerous buttons are clearly labeled.  There are AIs around that are way more powerful than you; but they don't hurt you unless you ask to be hurt, sign an informed consent release form and click "Yes" three times.
  • Dystopia:  The first self-improving AI was poorly designed, everyone's dead and the universe is being turned into paperclips.  Or the augmented humans hate the normals.  Or augmentations make you go nuts.  Or the darned government banned everything again, and people are still getting Alzheimers due to lack of stem-cell research.
  • Weirdtopia:  _____



Part of The Fun Theory Sequence

Next post: "Justified Expectation of Pleasant Surprises"

Previous post: "Eutopia is Scary"

Comments (303)

Sort By: Old
Comment author: Joe 12 January 2009 09:50:39PM 25 points [-]

Sexual Weirdtopia could just be "the internet comes to life"... e.g. everyone gets freaky without shame, but it turns out almost everyone is into something that's of absolutely no interest to you personally.

Or, to follow the public science example, the taboo is revealed to be as fundamental aspect of sexual arousal as the unknown is to the intellectual. The people demand a strict morality police after an era of total acceptance drains all the fun out of it. Everyone is fully expected to both seek out sexual thrills and aid in the swift punishment of anyone who seeks out sexual thrills: If you ask for a spanking you may be asking for a spanking.

Comment author: Tiiba2 12 January 2009 10:46:26PM 2 points [-]

I recently wondered whether it's possible that transhumans would spend parts of their lives in situations very similar to Dante's hell, complete with wailing and gnashing of teeth. Some have suggested that a bit of pain might be necessary to make all the pleasure we're supposed to get realizable, but I suggest that we might actually need quite a lot of it. If the only way to make people happy is to improve their lives, pushing them way down might turn out to be a reasonable solution. And some might choose that route to spice up whatever other sources of happiness there are. The fact that hellfire scares us fleshlings wouldn't matter to indestructible nanocyborgs.

Or maybe they would intentionally seek other things that I consider horrible. Like the risk of death - isn't that what people do already when they walk on a tightrope?

Comment author: DanielLC 07 September 2010 01:45:30AM 2 points [-]

Why not just implant memories of hell?

Perhaps they'll put everyone in hell for a few minutes and mess with their memory so they think it was always like that, then disable long-term memory writing and take them out. It would be like you just left Hell for your entire life.

No matter what method they use to get you to the pinnacle of happiness, I'd think disabling long-term memory storage at that point and keeping you there forever would be the best. At least, unless that wouldn't be happiness.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 28 November 2010 09:42:41PM 12 points [-]

Disabling long-term memory writing gives me the same bad taste as orgasmium. It's cheating, and anyway, why live forever if it only feels to you like a minute? Isn't that, from the Fun perspective, kind of like only living for a minute?

Comment author: Nick_Tarleton 13 January 2009 12:32:06AM 7 points [-]

Some have suggested that a bit of pain might be necessary to make all the pleasure we're supposed to get realizable.... If the only way to make people happy is to improve their lives....

Taken to a literal extreme (I don't know if that's your intent), the idea that pain is necessary for pleasure violates the Generalized Anti-Zombie Principle, or something like it. If pleasure without contrast palls, there's some neurological reason for this, one that we could work around in wireheading if we really wanted to. I think the most you can plausibly say is that for humanlike architectures, memories of suffering (not necessarily true ones) are necessary to appreciate pleasures more complex than heroin.

Personally, though, I think that there are already plenty of humans who, through genetics and/or introspective self-modification, can be perfectly happy without improving conditions.

Comment author: Cyan2 13 January 2009 12:53:42AM 10 points [-]

Economic Weirdtopia: FAIth determines that the love of money actually is the root of ~75% of evil, so it's back to the barter system for us.

Sexual Weirdtopia: FAIth determines that the separatist feminists were right -- CEV requires segregation by sex. Homosexual men and lesbians laugh and laugh. Research on immersive VR becomes a preoccupation among the heterosexual majority in both segregated camps.

Not very plausible, but... "That's the thing about FAIth. If you don't have it, you can't understand it. And if you do, no explanation is necessary."

Comment author: Daniel_Franke 13 January 2009 01:01:31AM 5 points [-]

Economic weirdtopia: being rich is socially unacceptable; not because the society values equality, but because it's considered decadent and, in a certain sense, cheating. Weirdtopia's system of morality is virtue-based, and one of their highest virtues is a peculiar sort of self-sufficiency. Essentially, you're expected to be able to make yourself safe and comfortable by relying only on your wits and not on material goods. Needing to consume natural resources is accepted as a fact of life, but you should be able to do as much as possible with as little as possible. There is no concept of land ownership. In a loose sense of the word "own", you own the chattels that you produce with your own hands, but accepting the products of others' labor is a vice.

Exchanging knowledge and techniques is normal and acceptable. Being knowledgable about things that others have discovered is entirely amoral. Innovating earns you respect, but equally so regardless of whether you're the first to ever discover something or whether you figured out something widely-known on your own.

Comment author: steven 13 January 2009 01:12:25AM 3 points [-]

I think the most you can plausibly say is that for humanlike architectures, memories of suffering (not necessarily true ones) are necessary to appreciate pleasures more complex than heroin. Probably what matters is that there's some degree of empathy with suffering, whether or not that empathy comes from memories. Even in that weakened form the statement doesn't sound plausible to me.

Anyway it seems to me that utopianly speaking the proper psychological contrast for pleasure is sobriety rather than pain.

Comment author: billb 13 January 2009 01:23:23AM 5 points [-]

Neil Stephenson's new book Anathem does exactly what you suggest in your public understand of science Weirdtopia. Although, he also sequesters the scientists in "monasteries."

Comment author: James_Blair 13 January 2009 01:47:20AM 9 points [-]

Economic... Weirdtopia: The world has an indirect economy. People trade status for predictive power to decide which ventures get the most attention and which resources to allocate to whom/what. Businesses are considered a weird anachronism of a begone era. People are free to do whatever they want with their status, except trade real property. (They can, however, use it to make the market grant favours if they want.) Life's necessities are always freely accessible.

Governmental... Weirdtopia: Every conflict is resolved either by consensus or moving away. There are even seed spaceships moving far away from Sol for the latter option. Non-violence isn't the rule, it's the law. Every intelligence agreed to remove violent urges. Non-violence has an extremely broad definition that not only covers force, but also deception, market manipulation, even advertising, bad manners and ostracism. Honesty is not expected, it just is; the only way people find out what the word means is through history classes.

Comment author: Peter4 13 January 2009 01:47:58AM 0 points [-]

It must have been intentional that all the Dystopia examples are almost one-to-one mappings of the real world? Except for the cognitive one. That one stands out as strange, perhaps intentionally - the message is that the world is fucked, and we've only one more chance as the last Dystopian calamity looms before us.

As to the assignment:

Economic Weirdtopia: The production economy is entirely automated. Supply is near infinite due to the constellation of this automation with asteroid mining. (The weird part is that the political will was somehow mustered to accomplish this.) Quite oddly, class inequalities are no longer sustainable - due to the occasional public slaughter of the rising bourgeoisie and power elites.

Sexual Weirdtopia: What you described as Utopia seems pretty damn weirdtopia to me.

Governmental Weirdtopia: Each person is a congressmen. "Leaders" are chosen by lot, or else elected on merit by representatives chosen by lot. Laws are written and interpretted by juries, who are themselves potentially open to prosecution for the verdicts which they render. Lawmakers can be charged criminally by the people for the laws they pass.

Technological Weirdtopia: The human race has turned into a civilization of AI flying around the solar system (in a Dyson sphere).

Cognitive Weirdtopia: "

Comment author: Mike_Blume 13 January 2009 03:03:48AM 11 points [-]

"I'm not moving. You move. Bastard."

Fine, we'll both move to different Everett branches.

Weirdtopia: A deeper understanding of anthropics leads us to consider quantum immortality valid, as long as the death is instantaneous. We prepare an electron in a spin up state, and measure its angular momentum on the x axis. Left, your faction terminates, right, mine.

Comment author: Aron 13 January 2009 03:23:30AM 4 points [-]

sexual wierdtopia: It is mandated by the central processor that participants stop to ask 'are we having fun yet?' every 60 seconds in order to allow the partners to elucidate and record the performance of the previous minute. Failure will result in the central processor rescheduling the desire impulse, and scheduling some other emotional context. This is not just for training, reason stipulates sexual performance can always be further optimized.

Comment author: Edward 13 January 2009 03:27:18AM 27 points [-]

Governmental Weirdtopia: Double-blind democracy. Yearly presidents are chosen at random. (couldn't be worse than our current system) The catch is that the person chosen to be the leader has absolutely no idea that they are the leader. They are followed around and monitored, and anything uttered resembling a decree is put into action if it doesn't violate the constitution. The decrees are only put into place after their term expires so they don't catch on. Quick decision-making such as treaties are wars are left up to a streamlined unicameral legislative body.

Comment author: Tomasz_Wegrzanowski 13 January 2009 03:27:19AM 22 points [-]

Economic Weirdtopia: Market is so efficient that nobody has to work, and everybody's basic needs can be sustained by just asking any charity. This prosperity hyperactivates everybody's social status chasing instincts, so people work harder and longer than ever, feeling inadequate if they don't earn more than their peers, and spending most of what they earn on making their 3d virtual avatars look better than other people's 3d virtual avatars.

Sexual Weirdtopia: Reproduction is completely separated from sex, children are taken care of by free market and government services with just token parental involvement, and all STDs all eliminated. This first leads to everybody having sex with everybody else, but people got bored with vanilla sex soon and many sexual identification based on shared sexual fetishes emerge. They replace religions, languages, citizenships and ethnicities as leading in/out-group indicators, and somehow Middle East is still in endemic state of war, now between guro and furry.

Governmental Weirdtopia: Government knows everything about everybody, but doesn't abuse it because everybody knows about everything it does. Universal transparency makes corruption impossible, so people are no longer interested in governing or lobbying and governments atrophy with time.

Cognitive Weirdtopia: Combination of efficient search and prediction markets made all knowledge easily available, so all schools shut down. People don't even learn basic mathematics any more, as easily available mathematical coprocessors for brains do that more efficiently and without prevalent human biases. People find themselves a niche hobby that wasn't explored yet and learn everything about that yet. If they're lucky it might get popular later and they'll make decent money in prediction market out of it.

Comment author: Edward 13 January 2009 03:42:10AM 6 points [-]

Sexual Weirdtopia: Double-blind Sexocracy .... you get the idea.

Comment author: Tangurena3 13 January 2009 03:48:09AM 11 points [-]

Two roads diverged in the woods. I took the one less traveled, and...

Utopia: that has made all the difference. Dystopia: had to eat bugs until Park rangers rescued me. Wierdtopia: got to eat the bugs until the rangers threw me out.

For an example of a sexual wierdtopia, I'd recommend the movie zerophilia. Kinky, but not porn, and heck, my library has 2 copies.

Comment author: Doug_S. 13 January 2009 04:49:29AM 2 points [-]

Stranger in a Strange Land may have been an attempt to describe a Weirdtopia.

Comment author: Tiiba2 13 January 2009 05:33:14AM -1 points [-]

Everyone is orgasmium. And strangely enough, they don't think it's all that horrible.

Comment author: orthonormal 07 August 2011 03:41:16PM 8 points [-]

Uh, of course they don't- that's part of the definition. The point is that I don't want to become nothing but that.

Comment author: Phil_Goetz2 13 January 2009 06:47:40AM 6 points [-]

Jorge Luis Borges, The Babylon Lottery, 1941. Government by lottery. Living under a lottery system leads to greater expectation of random events, greater belief that life is and should be ruled by randomness, and further extension of the lottery's scope, in a feedback loop that increases until every aspect of everyone's life is controlled by the lottery.

Comment author: Joseph_Hertzlinger 13 January 2009 07:14:31AM 10 points [-]

Food Weirdtopia: We see the same type of taboos or enthusiasms that we see about sex in this world. The Catholic Church declares that artificial sweeteners are a perversion; there are pro-starvation articles at feministing; the Republican Vice-Presidential candidate weighs 300 pounds...

Comment author: phane2 13 January 2009 10:19:32AM 3 points [-]

Sexual Weirdtopia:

The world envisioned in the strange philosophies of E. Yudkowsky, where the sentient citizens of terra-gen civilization have convinced themselves that the only noble pursuit is becoming pregnant. Sex has evolved into an elaborate emotional and intellectual ritual, combining features of philosophy, mathematics, and social activity. Emotional attachment to 'ephemeral' events does not come naturally to these beings, so sex is nearly always "for keeps," with at least one party (occasionally more) becoming impregnated with a unique seed-entity. Due to the dynamic way in which the seed-entity is designed through the interactions of the parents during sex, the cognitive distance between citizens is often staggering. Still, most citizens agree that no endeavor can match sex in importance. What little terra-gen culture does not center around making one another pregnant is seen as an idle diversion with little value and no consequences.

Comment author: Vizikahn2 13 January 2009 11:18:39AM 1 point [-]
Comment author: Zubon 13 January 2009 01:15:52PM 16 points [-]

Economic: I cited Asimov on the previous post, so let's stick with that. The Computer effectively runs a planned economy, using massive information-gathering and computing power to overcome the Hayekian knowledge problem. It really does know what is best. Everyone is free to listen to The Computer or not, but you know that your decision would be less efficient for accomplishing your goals. Such rebellions are useless, however, because The Computer's prediction capabilities include whether or not you will take its advice, and it acts accordingly to make sure you get the best results anyway.

Sexual: With no need for biological reproduction, the sex drive is eliminated in favor of other interests. Some people continue to have sex; as a hobby, it has a public reputation somewhere between (the current view of) Civil War re-enactments and juggling.

Governmental: Initiation of violence is the chief rule. With powerful AI and ubiquitous nanotech, it is recognized that anyone can inflict his will upon a large area in a short time. Pre-emptive execution of possibly unfriendly biologicals is the major task of government.

Comment author: Kingreaper 17 December 2010 10:11:04PM *  4 points [-]

I was about to post your sexual weirdtopia. To me, it doesn't even seem that weird, just... efficient.

But then, I often want sex, but I rarely enjoy it. So a world where no-one has a sex-drive, sex is just a fun thing to do, seems exceedingly attractive.

Comment author: Manuel_Mörtelmaier 13 January 2009 01:43:00PM 7 points [-]

Yoshitoshi Abe does a decent job at describing an Afterlife Weirdtopia in Haibane Renmei. Wikipedia could be seen as Knowledge Weirdtopia that became reality.

Comment author: sketerpot 01 February 2011 03:02:20AM *  7 points [-]

When I watched Haibane Renmei, I loved the implication that they were living in the first of a series of afterlives. Of course, once you're on your fourth or fifth "afterlife", I imagine the whole thing starts to seem more like one big episodic life, with the afterlife transitions keeping it fresh and interesting so that people don't get bored. I think this is a weirdtopia that would appeal to a lot of people here.

The afterlife in Heibane Renmei looks like the entry funnel into a bunch of afterlives with progressively more fun potential. Like a mental hospital with patients slowly recovering, and then checking out when they're ready.

Incidentally, we see this same sort of thing in Angel Beats, but with more guns and booby-trapped underground lairs. Not as brilliant, but more accessible and definitely a lot of fun.

Comment author: [deleted] 13 January 2009 02:06:46PM *  1 point [-]


Comment author: Sean_C. 13 January 2009 03:58:17PM 1 point [-]

Economic Weirdtopia: There is no economy. Everyone lives a self sufficient existence on isolated farms. Think Solaria.

Comment author: steven 13 January 2009 04:47:36PM 13 points [-]

Few of these weirdtopias seem strangely appealing in the same way that conspiratorial science seems strangely appealing.

Comment author: Miguel_Antonio 13 January 2009 04:48:10PM 1 point [-]

It will be sad if sex disappears only because there is no need for biological reproduction.

Comment author: Zubon 13 January 2009 05:40:18PM 1 point [-]

Bah, steven is right. We have a bunch of weird dystopias. On the other hand, "strangely appealing" could be idiosyncratic. I think it was Harry Harrison's Deathworld 2 that made a neo-medieval dystopia from groups that held scientific secrets in enclaves. Miguel Antonio would be sad if sex disappeared, but I know some people who would be much more content without it, while others are really excited about Civil War re-enactments. By my count, speculations on sexual weirdtopias are well in the lead in the comments; is this just normal for our species, or are OB regulars more interested in weird sex?

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 13 January 2009 08:01:37PM 8 points [-]

Yeah, strangely appealing takes more work. I think we're looking at premature search-halts here. You don't have to go with your very first idea.

Most of these are random SF Weirdtopias, not fun-theoretical Weirdtopias and many have already been done in SF, too. Actually most of these are plain old Utopias or Dystopias.

But I would give credit to Joe's morality police, Mike Blume's Everett-splitting society, Edward's double-blind democracy, and Tomasz's "somehow Middle East is still in endemic state of war, now between guro and furry".

Comment author: Yvain2 13 January 2009 09:01:52PM 42 points [-]

Political Weirdtopia: Citizens decide it is unfair for a democracy to count only the raw number of people who support a position without considering the intensity with which they believe it. Of course, one can't simply ask people to self-report the intensity with which they believe a position on their ballot, so stronger measures are required. Voting machines are redesigned to force voters to pull down a lever for each issue/candidate. The lever delivers a small electric shock, increasing in intensity each second the voter holds it down. The number of votes a person gets for a particular issue or candidate is a function of how long they keep holding down the lever.

In (choose one: more/less) enlightened sects of this society, the electric shock is capped at a certain level to avoid potential fatalities among overzealous voters. But in the (choose one: more/less) enlightened sects, voters can keep pulling down on the lever as long as they can stand the pain and their heart keeps working. Citizens consider this a convenient and entirely voluntary way to purge fanaticism from the gene pool.

The society lasts for several centuries before being taken over by a tiny cabal of people with Congenital Insensitivity to Pain Disorder.

Comment author: Will_Pearson 13 January 2009 09:08:24PM 3 points [-]

Personally I don't find the scientific weirdtopia strangely appealing. Finding knowledge for me is about sharing it later.

Utopia originally meant no-place, I have a hard time forgetting that meaning when people talk about them.

I'd personally prefer to work towards negated-dystopias. Which is not necessarily the same thing as working towards Utopia, depending on how broad your class of dystopia is. For example rather than try and maximise Fun, I would want to minimize the chance that humanity and all its work were lost to extinction. If there is time and energy to devote to Fun while humanity survives then people can figure it out for themselves.

Comment author: Cyan2 13 January 2009 10:14:42PM 5 points [-]

Utopia originally meant no-place, I have a hard time forgetting that meaning when people talk about them.

The term "utopia" was a deliberate pun on "outopia" meaning "no place" and "eutopia" meaning "good place". It seems doubtful that Thomas More actually intended to depict his personal ideal society, so one might say that Utopia is the original Weirdtopia.

I think we're looking at premature search-halts here.

I plead no contest.

Comment author: aoeuid 14 January 2009 12:38:06AM 3 points [-]

Well, this may not quite fit the personal criteria for a wierdtopia, since this is quite close to what I would consider a utopia, but it stands fairly far apart from the other scenarios presented so far, so I figured I might as well post it:

Tech Everyone is forcibly uploaded, the surface of the earth is scanned in super-duper-hi-fi precision and then used for computronium to house the newly uploaded minds. An overseer AI is created that sends out a sphere of near-light speed probes to convert the rest of the stuff in our future light cone into computronium.

Cog Everyone stays more or less at the level they are, since they are all supposed to pull themselves higher mentally by their own will, and almost everyone is too busy screwing around for the foreseeable future.

Gov't Doesn't exist, since everyone has their little (or rather huge) chunk of cyberspace where they can summon any simulacra of beings that they want. The overseer AI has discovered that there is no verifiable difference between conscious and unconscious algorithms (but the scanned in humans are almost definitely conscious) so it is satisfied with providing everyone with a way to create human simulacra that are probably not conscious and allowing the probably conscious humans to do whatever it is they want to them (simulating earth histories is a popular hobby).

People are allowed to visit other people's created worlds, and some even do it quite a lot. Violence can only happen if the victim allows themselves to be hurt, and those conflicts that can't be resolved without emotional damage (eg love triangle) are handled as they are now, except without the possibility of suicide (well, you can do it in theory, but only if the overseer analyzes you and sees that you would *never* recover from your emotional loss, and that's never happened so far). At most, the hurt party researches neuropsychology for a while before invariably getting distracted.

Econ Similarly doesn't exist except for what people want to make up in their fake worlds. The overseer oversees (duh) the actual RL acquisition of material for more computronium, and distributes it to the measly amount of humans that want to use even a small fraction of it.

Sex One of the biggest distractions. This field got researched to a fairly decent level, so people get to have many of their craziest fantasies fulfilled. To uploaded people, the difference between another uploaded human and a simulacrum is academic, so most create elaborate worlds for their satisfaction. Many also have real loving relationships, but things like "public" perceptions of sex don't really play a role in anyone's life.

Comment author: TGGP4 14 January 2009 05:18:50AM 2 points [-]

Zubon, from what I've read of Austrians they laugh at the claim (I think Gunnar Myrdal made it) that you can solve the knowledge/calculation problem with such a computer as a misunderstanding of the problem.

Yvain, you are groping toward one of the oldest forms of democracy.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 14 January 2009 06:29:58AM 7 points [-]

aoeuid, that's the kind of Future I grew up in, and that I'm trying to get away from; it hasn't been discussed here because it's too obvious.

Comment author: Zubon 14 January 2009 01:32:24PM 0 points [-]

TGGP, Hayek argued some reasons why it is not even theoretically possible for central planners to have all the relevant information, making it more than a calculation problem. But if we are picking up utopias and weirdtopias from sci fi, we can let Asimov have his; which one you count that story from I, Robot as presumably depends on your views of central planning. Or maybe it is a dystopia with amputation of destiny, as the story's conclusion implies.

If we get that technological utopia and have thumbnail-sized supercomputers that predict as well as Omega, maybe they can pull it off. If I can simulate your brain perfectly, I can presumably capture that knowledge. If we are all uploaded, some computer(s) will be able to simulate all our brains at once.

Comment author: Strange7 17 December 2010 08:27:16PM 1 point [-]

What if the central planner doesn't start as a central planner, but rather a community of planners competing among themselves which eventually synchronizes?

Comment author: AnnaSalamon 14 January 2009 01:42:04PM 2 points [-]

Roko, Instead of Shakespeare, perhaps resolve to get a sense of the knowledge, rationality, and general motivations and outlook of a larger set of people? Knowing who makes up our economy, governments, medical systems, and research institutions is as important as knowing how a lightbulb works for making good decisions in the world.

I'm far from perfect on this one; if anyone has suggestions for illuminating conversations to have with strangers, do share.

Comment author: Jamisia 14 January 2009 03:56:03PM 0 points [-]

It's so sad that economics hasn't progressed over the last 100 years or so, beyond either "extreme central planning doesn't work" or "extreme unregulated free market doesn't work". Nothing, save Gesell and Yunus. Have you ever considered that cdo's, cds's and letters of credit were not invented for their own sake, but for a real world reason? What's going to be scarce in weirdtopia? The normal? Or, if I can have all the gadgets I want and never need a job or a place to live, talent and hard work? I think a lot of dissatisfaction comes from 1) frustration, 2) popculture. Our imagination is stuck in either LOTR or Star Trek. The reality is underground. Under people's noses a sea change is going on. Physics and philosophy have been demoted and biology rules. What if a patient cured himself (any affliction) by exchanging, through bodily fluids, the necessary molecules synthesized by the body of another human? Why should humans not install photosynthesis in themselves? No need for fancy electricity, just light. Sure handy for spacetravel. I think people's sensibilities have been numbed, so they don't recognize, for example, that our culture is musically best typified by death metal. The drilling, shrieking, roaring... wait! any modern building site. The reason "it ain't happenin" is that evolution just bumbles along, frame by frame. It has no direction. We see the snail's pace and demand a two hour film. But if you want a film, the answer is to go out and construct it.

Comment author: frelkins 14 January 2009 07:27:52PM 1 point [-]

Economic weirdtopia . . .after the Ultimate Crash of 2105, the best ems got together and created a new universal atomic currency, based on not just on gold, but on reserves of quark-gluon plasma made from gold nuclei in deference to mankind's historical preferences.

Sexual weirdtopia. . .since death is over through nanotechology or uploading into perfect android bodies you can get on a 3-year-lease, there's no need for birth. If ems want to create a new being from themselves, they just copy different brain modules from the catalog and create the perfect "children" who share all the traits & values they want them to have.

Technological weirdtopia. . .once we found gravitational waves, we decided few things were as beautiful as watching black hole spin-flips. How majestic to see the jets reverse - like Niagara Falls but much much better. They become the new lunar eclipses. The AIs decide for retro-aesthetic reasons to resort to communicating only via gorgeously polished and highly decorated ebony "punch cards."

Cognitive weirdtopia. . .since unlimited thinking power is available via copy & merge for ems, or simple access to AIs, thought has become devalued. Who wants it when it isn't rare? Real physical sensation becomes more highly valued than ever, and people pile hop into giant "cuddle piles" with numerous artificial cats just to feel the warmth.

Governmental weirdtopia. . .we discover the aliens learned long ago how to encode their whole being into several kinds of waveforms. Thus the first message SETI finds is actually the ambassador itself. It informs us of the spectral rules governing the bands given to various alliances and tells us where to find the repeaters. The cosmos is governed by a universal FCC.

Comment author: scott3 14 January 2009 10:21:18PM 1 point [-]

All-encompassing weirdtopia:

Humanity continues as it has for the last several thousand years, learning new things, changing its views, constantly refining its thoughts and actions. It makes mistakes and learns from them, or fails to learn and repeats them, repeatedly. It's splintered into many groups who hate each other for no particular reason, create wars, famine, and disease, despite wealth and cures. There is a great disparity in all things between different people in different places, including knowledge, wealth, and enjoyment of life.

Evolution turns out to hold sway even once humanity tries taking over the process, and countless lines of human and technological enhancement become 'extinct' while others flourish to take their place. Utopia, dystopia, and weirdtopia exist together in varying degrees and in different locations among humanity's diaspora, forming a highly complex, dynamic, adaptive universe that continues on despite all the great changes.

Comment author: Michael_Kirkland 15 January 2009 08:42:43AM 7 points [-]

Your science weirdtopia seems a lot like how MMORPGs work now, to a large degree. There's an internally consistent set of world-rules, but they won't tell you what they are. Sure, people are happy to share their experimental results with you, but you have to go looking. Spoilers aren't left out in the open.

Why would we need the weirdtopia science to be performed on the physical world? Wouldn't new world-rules, optimized for the fun of learning them be better?

Comment author: Patrick_(orthonormal) 15 January 2009 09:05:38PM 10 points [-]

Sexual Weirdtopia: What goes on consensually behind closed doors doesn't (usually) affect the general welfare negatively, so it's not a matter of social concern. However, that particular bundle of biases known as "romantic love" has led to so much chaos in the past that it's become heavily regulated.

People start out life with the love-module suppressed; but many erstwhile romantics feel that in the right circumstances, this particular self-deception can actually better their lives. If a relationship is going well, the couple (or group, perhaps) can propose to fall in love, and ask the higher authorities for a particular love-mod for their minds.

Every so often, each loving relationship must undergo an "audit" in which they have the love-mods removed and decide whether to put them back in. No unrequited love is allowed; if one party ends it, the other must as well...

Comment author: orthonormal 07 August 2011 03:33:07PM 3 points [-]

You might be interested to know that SSRIs appear to kill romantic love, in addition to their other effects. Thus half of the engineering problem has been solved, modulo the difficulty in obtaining these drugs.

Pity that this suggestion is a few years late for your own (unstated) predicament, of course. But don't worry, you'll get through it the old-fashioned way in time.

Comment author: Anonymous48 16 January 2009 08:29:06PM 2 points [-]

Economic: everyone owns a nanoassembler but mass production and copy operations are prohibited. Sexual: age of consent is raised to 600 years.

Comment author: Bob_Mottram 16 January 2009 11:22:48PM 0 points [-]

So, the question is "Whose utopia is it anyway?". Clearly not everyone would agree upon these utopia/dystopia definitions, so if future AIs are to be created instilled with the noblest of human values whose value system should their BIOS contain? Of course this requires you to confront the notion that humans have somewhat diverse value systems, not all of which may be friendly towards science or western libertarian thinking.

Comment author: Kellopyy 25 January 2009 02:55:00PM 0 points [-]

Let's say this is supposed to be a economic weirdtopia - or something like that.

Let's suppose there is more or less constant connectivity to internet equivalent so that you can 'see' whatever other people are broadcasting as information. Twitters and facebooks of the new era are widely adopted. Essentially this will also make possible to have near perfect sousveillance.

This is world where people find meaning to their lives through stories - endless damsels in distress and knights in shining armor, wise wizards, devious politicians and whatever. People learn to change their roles in search of a meaning - perhaps broadcasting new information on their social networks. Helpful CEO of yesterday might be todays villainous power broker as boredom was creeping to their local social network and something had to be done.

One can use anything that creates a more meaningful story out of the situation. People constantly pay attention to other people to see what kind of stories they living out while trying to experience stories themselves. When someone helps you to find a more meaningful shape to the situation by acting out some role that was apparently missing you reward them with your attention and cooperation.

This would create a world where you can fairly expect that world is pleasantly suprising and complex. Everyone could expect to live out pleasant fantasies and to participate stories of other people. They would create and carve meaning from their social network.

The art of combining several stories would be perhaps most highly appreciated skill - it would mean people can expect that when spending more time around you they can find out new kinds of experiences - surprises of most pleasant kind. Letting those people to use whatever resources they need would be good idea - after all they have created interesting situations previously from whatever has been at hand.

Problem with this skill of combinatorial storytelling is of course that you have to understand what kind of stories other people are experiencing - keep tabs on people - and quickly see how those stories might be combined with stories of other people.

You could still have recurring characters in story of your life as before - and more notably perhaps there would be more chances for having your personal villains and antagonists to whom you appear as a antagonist - match made in story world. Finally killing anyone would hardly make any sense - why kill someone interesting and why kill someone uninteresting? It is so much better just leave them hanging off the cliff just to have them return later back to you with a vengeance.

Keeping tabs on lives of other heroes and villains would be interesting too - most highly talented people living out most extravagant lives would be appreciated as people setting up new standards to aspire to. Not because their trappings are better, but because they have even more fun stories to live through. They might have new and better stories that you could perhaps adapt to your own life.

Comment author: AdamJamesDavis 26 October 2009 10:13:06PM 0 points [-]

Utopia: Involuntary suffering is successfully abolished. Technology that enables it's controllable inhibition is freely available for all personhoods.

Dystopia: The perversion of paradise engineering technologies for the creation of horrific weapons and torture devices, for instance; a (infinitely indestructible) nanosuit that incarcerates the body and paralyses it. Nanoprobes from the suit invade the body and it's systems in order to inflict the maximum (infinite?) amount of physical and mental pain upon the victim whilst keeping it alive indefinitely (infinitely?). Said suit for an infinitely more horrific version of locked-in syndrome that could never be broken free from.

Weirdtopia: A benevolent, negative utilitarian dictator AI uses time travel in an attempt to prevent the creation of all life in order for all suffering to never occur.

Comment author: Strange7 17 December 2010 08:42:53PM 8 points [-]

Weirdtopia: A benevolent, negative utilitarian dictator AI uses time travel in an attempt to prevent the creation of all life in order for all suffering to never occur.

And very nearly succeeds, thus retroactively explaining the Great Filter.

Comment author: Cortexelus 27 October 2009 08:46:39PM 2 points [-]

Utopia: Virtual reality/mental augmentation allows for all to move into a cosmos of their own self-created imagination. All is fun and play. Economy and Politics dissolve into an order of creation, art, experience, and discovery. The exploration of the infiniteness of the Universe is the main objective. New profound ideas are generated thousands of times a second. Everyone's minds are perpetually blown. Everyone is a perpetual state of LMAO.

Dystopia: Governments ban imagination augmentation, adding it to the drug war hit list. Imaginations are condemned, and make for poor workers. OR it turns out little value is gained from imagination machines, which merely become the new Television. Humanity continues to wander in samsara.

Weirdtopia: Augmentation opens up human beings the weirdness of the Universe, already populated with vast networks of intelligences, both benevolent and malevolent and weirdevolent. Nearly all of human history and endevour (though brought us here) becomes obsolete. We now must navigate an enormous ambivalent social order that has become aware of our presence.

Comment author: Cortexelus 27 October 2009 08:56:51PM *  6 points [-]


  • Utopia: All possible utopias exist simultaneously. On a whim, one can instantly shift one's utopian situation to perfectly reflect one's mind so as produce maximum bliss/happiness/orgasm/utility/LMAO/utopianess/nirvana/whatever you want.

  • Dystopia: All possible dystopias exist simultaneously. At every moment, one's dystopian situation shifts in perfect response to one's mind so as to produce maximum dissonance.

  • Weirdtopia: All possible weirdtopias exist, but only when you think they don't. At every moment, one's existential situation shifts in perfect response to one's mind to produce maximum bewilderment. The world is always what you think it isn't. Even when you know it isn't what you believe it is. Weirdtopia has nothing to do with this description. To think weirdtopia impossible is for it to exist. Weirdtopia has both and neither everything and nothing to do with paradoxes.

Comment author: gwern 27 October 2009 09:11:22PM 2 points [-]

It's a nice weirdtopia, but it seems like it might have problems with your continued existence, eg. if I think a weirdtopia with the current laws of physics, do I die the instant my weirdtopia shifts to the next one? (If I don't, how could the weirdtopia possibly shift the laws without killing me, given the consilience of science? see http://lesswrong.com/lw/hq/universal_fire/ )

Comment author: Cortexelus 27 October 2009 09:23:24PM 6 points [-]

Your problem with the paradox of continued existence in weirdtopia necessarily continues your existence.

Comment author: gwern 27 October 2009 09:30:35PM 1 point [-]


Comment author: Larks 08 June 2010 06:49:07PM *  2 points [-]

Economic: people assign high utility to work and negative utility to consumption: we trade by agreeing to consume each other's product in return for their using ours. Third world aid takes the form of stealing their good and then secretly burning them.

Governmental: whenever anyone utters a rhyming couplet, that couplet becomes law, taking precedence over all previous laws. However, no couplet can be repeated, so political think-tanks hire thousands of poets to craft elegant new laws. The strongest new couplets are held in reserve for decades, in a MAD scenario.

Comment author: DanielLC 07 September 2010 02:40:25AM 9 points [-]

Utopia/Logical Weirdtopia

There's an infinite number of universes that anyone can teleport between. Thanks to the infinite hotel paradox, each person in each universe find their own personal utopia.

Topological Weirdtopia

We live in a five-dimensional world with a huge curvature. There's billions of people within walking distance. Everyone has a built-in GPS, because otherwise you'd never find your way home.

Even weirder: After we're uploaded, we start just using geometry in games. You get somewhere by willing yourself to be there, and your perception of it doesn't include geometry.

Government Slightly Weirdtopia:

The government is a random sample of the population. I suspect it wouldn't actually be that different, but someone ought to try it.

Government Weirdtopia:

The government is a hive mind. It gives laws using IP over Demographics. People protest against it including the death rate, but it argues that it can't stop that any more than you can stop using certain brain cells.

Economic Weirdtopia:

Money grows on genetically modified spiders, which you have to go around and kill for money. You can buy stuff from other people, in which case they don't have to kill spiders, but mostly you get stuff from NPCs, who just destroy the money. You can also sell stuff to them, in which case they produce money and destroy the item. If you die hunting money spiders, you are reincarnated at the nearest graveyard.


Everything is free except advertising. You get the money to advertise by putting ads on your products.

Yet Another:

A sort of quantum teleportation of happiness is discovered. It's possible to buy someone else's happiness, and no matter how much you buy, you get the full effect. Billionaires are ecstatic beyond comprehension.

Cognitive Weird... event:

At first luddites choose not to be uploaded, but eventually they're forced to by the eminent domain laws. If they're not going to use that body mass to think, they'd better give it to someone who will.

Cognitive Weirdtopia:

The world is turned into a giant computer that makes the simplest possible extremely happy being. Everyone's extremely happy, but they can't think beyond that.

Another one:

In order to prevent people from modifying themselves so that they can't or don't want to modify themselves back, they're allowed to modify one other person, but not themselves.

Comment author: wedrifid 07 September 2010 02:52:28AM 4 points [-]

Economic Weirdtopia:

Money grows on genetically modified spiders, which you have to go around and kill for money. You can buy stuff from other people, in which case they don't have to kill spiders, but mostly you get stuff from NPCs, who just destroy the money. You can also sell stuff to them, in which case they produce money and destroy the item. If you die hunting money spiders, you are reincarnated at the nearest graveyard.

If there was a button that started an FAI that would produce that 'topia I would press it right now. ;)

Comment author: gwern 24 September 2010 03:48:12PM 8 points [-]

The government is a random sample of the population. I suspect it wouldn't actually be that different, but someone ought to try it.

Sortition. Famously used in Athens.

If we're going by weird procedures, I like the ones used for electing the Doge of Venice:

New regulations for the elections of the doge introduced in 1268 remained in force until the end of the republic in 1797. Their object was to minimize as far as possible the influence of individual great families, and this was effected by a complex elective machinery. Thirty members of the Great Council, chosen by lot, were reduced by lot to nine; the nine chose forty and the forty were reduced by lot to twelve, who chose twenty-five. The twenty-five were reduced by lot to nine and the nine elected forty-five. Then the forty-five were once more reduced by lot to eleven, and the eleven finally chose the forty-one who actually elected the doge.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 14 November 2010 10:06:32PM *  12 points [-]

I'm not sure which category this goes under, as it has elements of a few. General Weirdtopia: A demonstrably non-sentient species of animal is created, genetically optimised for cuteness and lovableness, possibly tailored to whatever each individual finds endearing. Everybody is given one or more of these Furballs as a pet. Stuff for humans, both neccessities and luxuries, is free, but anything that is to be given to one’s Furball must be earned by working, solving puzzles, or winning competitions. People will empathize strongly with their Furballs and status will depend on how well-groomed, well-fed, well-dressed, etc. your Furball is, so people will work hard to buy them all manner of gourmet foods and toys and little sweaters. Government positions are awarded based on the performance of canditates' Furballs in competitions similar to modern dog or horse shows that measure obedience, agility, and health/happiness. Letting someone else pet your Furball is a deeply intimate act associated with sex, and the genes of children’s Furballs are drawn from their parents’ Furballs.

Comment author: [deleted] 14 November 2010 10:34:13PM 0 points [-]

Suppose we have the capacity to copy and delete brains, but we don't understand the brain well enough to manipulate it "to taste" much more than the clumsy ways we have today. (So no deleting specific memories, changing personality traits, etc.)

It seems to me that people would engage in a lot of "copy-suicide." Is something upsetting you? Make a back-up, activate your copy, delete your own mind. Now it's your double's problem. If you have a big test coming up, you could turn off, let your double study, and only come back after you've passed.

Theoretically, you could fast-forward through life in subjective experience, only sticking around for the good parts. (Sometimes, though, your doubles might not do what you ask...) Emo types would suicide & copy hundreds of times a day, stuck in a loop: the sad version of wireheading.

Comment author: Strange7 18 April 2011 12:06:39PM 1 point [-]

Real-world save scumming?

Comment author: TheOtherDave 28 November 2010 11:44:18PM 0 points [-]

Sure, I'll play.

Economic: Human desires don't keep up with available resources; the resulting global resource surplus makes efficient resource distribution entirely moot. A vastly (though not quite Vastly) inefficient system emerges which is nevertheless able to maintain everyone in whatever standard of living they choose.

Sexual: Sexual mores vary radically from one community to another. In the absence of resource competition, some subcultures have adopted sexual pleasure -- artificially induced and, by convention, solely induced by others -- as their preferred unit of currency, providing individuals with mechanisms of mutual influence and interdependence... in other words, everyone is a whore. Others have (d)evolved into orgasmium. Others have worked out less overwhelming arrangements. More generally, Rule 34 applies on a vast scale: if you can think of it, there's a community out there somewhere doing it. Mutual disapproval is widespread.

Governmental: There is no single government. In the absence of the need for efficiency, humanity fragments into billions of independent subcultures defined by different strategies for making group decisions. (Many of these are more like large families than anything we would consider governments.) Without any real benefit to either warfare or trade, their interactions are mostly social -- more like forums on the Internet than what we would think of as governments. Obnoxious subcultures are isolated by the collective effort of their neighbors.

Technological: Technology as we think about it mostly doesn't exist. Instead, fully general nanotech packages that extract energy from the Source are integrated with almost everyone's bodies, responding to their thoughts. This is not considered separate from individuals any more than most people today consider their physiology separate from them; mostly, people think of themselves as living simple, uncomplicated lives under their nanotechnologically assembled fig trees, with none to make them afraid. (There are a few subcultures that insist on externalizing technology like spaceships, computers, replicators, houses, supercolliders and so forth; such technophiles, or "tech geeks," are condescendingly tolerated by the majority.)

Cognitive: Some subcultures we would think of as a single cognitive entity... a "groupmind," if you like... while others we would recognize as more normal social structures including distinct individuals. Subcultures of the first type consider those of the second type to be suffering a kind of dissociative identity disorder, and often offer therapeutic interventions, which type 2 subcultures respond to in various different ways. (This sometimes results in cultures being obnoxious; see Governmental above.) The distinction between "natural" and "artificial" cognitive entities is mostly meaningless; individuals (including city-sized ones) consider optimization technology part of their cognition in the same way that we consider families and writing and communities and so forth part of our own.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 13 December 2010 10:04:21AM 10 points [-]

Governmental Weirdtopia: The form of government is an absolute monarchy. The sons and daughters of each monarch are raised in disadvantaged foster families, unknown to them (and even modified so they look like their foster parents). When they come of age, hidden tests ensure that they are sufficiently advanced in responsibility, wisdom, and compassion -- those who fail are killed, those who succeed inherit the throne (if more than one offspring succeed, the realm is split between them, if none succeed, the realm is absorbed by a nearby realm with a successful heir).

Comment author: Alicorn 13 December 2010 01:13:29PM 6 points [-]

those who fail are killed

Why is this part necessary? Imagine growing up in that society: "It's possible that my parents have been lying to me my whole life about where I came from, in which case I have to be a great enough person to rule the kingdom when I grow up or I will die." That sounds like one too many worries to heap on a child.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 13 December 2010 02:36:32PM 6 points [-]

Encouraging random people to be great in all their everyday dealings by having both a huge incentive and a huge disincentive would probably be part of the point.

Also prevents civil wars, pretenders to the throne, and exerts evolutionary pressure in favour of worthiness, without however hurting the vast majority of the population.

Comment author: benelliott 17 December 2010 05:59:54PM 2 points [-]

Also encourages people to try and appear worthy regardless of whether they actually are. Some people will do that anyway, but you can imagine the sort of person who just isn't interested in being a ruler, and wouldn't make a very good ruler, but tries to act like they would in order to avoid being killed.

Comment author: Strange7 18 April 2011 12:24:57PM 3 points [-]

My understanding was that the exact criteria and timing of the tests would not be general knowledge. In fact, a certain amount of subjectivity and even inconsistency on the part of those administering the test might be desirable, so long as they're consistently seen as looking for a specific, coherent set of virtues rather than a more immediate agenda.

As such, someone who has been practicing wise, responsible, and compassionate action out of pure self-preservation might maintain the noble facade even after taking office, out of (technically unjustified, but far from unreasonable) fear that the slightest moral lapse might result in assassination.

For that matter, they might just forget they were ever pretending.

Comment author: Kingreaper 13 December 2010 01:28:35PM 1 point [-]

Why is it necessary to take the children and randomly distribute them among the populous, rather than simply randomly pick members of the population?

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 13 December 2010 02:36:28PM 10 points [-]

Genetical reasoning was that the biological offspring of a former "proven" monarch, would be more statistically likely to be also proven worthy. Emotionally, the mythical concept of a child discovering his destiny was seen as more satisfying to the population than random selection, as was the glad reunion of parent and child when he successfully passed the test and his destiny was revealed. Lastly, the sacrifice of a monarch's own children (by letting them be raised by strangers, and possible killed) endeared him to the population, and encouraged the own monarch to raise the standards of education and prosperity for all his subjects, as his own children would benefit from it.

Plus, random selection wasn't weird enough.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 13 December 2010 03:28:05PM 1 point [-]

SF reference: "Call Him Lord" by Gordon R. Dickson.

Comment author: Strange7 18 April 2011 12:29:15PM 3 points [-]

It might be worthwhile to secretly test a few randomly-selected commoners too. Claim they were royalty all along if they pass, otherwise leave as little evidence as possible that the test took place.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 13 December 2010 12:42:27PM *  0 points [-]

Cognitive weirdtopia:

Any time you are making a potentially life-changing decision (e.g. following this career or that one, commit to a relationship or ending it), you can ask an AI to produce several simulations of yourself from 10 years later who made different decisions. Then you can discuss with them, or they can discuss with each other, so that you get a good idea of how each choice will personally change you -- not just in a sense of pure stats (money made, etc), but in the sense of what sort of person you're likely to be.

Inspired by the "20 2020 Pennies" arc in the Penny&Aggie webcomic (ETA: which I discuss to a greater extent in a discussion post of its own ).

Comment author: TheOtherDave 13 December 2010 07:21:17PM 1 point [-]

Heck, why restrict this to isolated life-changing decisions? I'd rather the AI assemble a party I can join whenever I wish, that is populated by a Dunbar-sized group of me from representatively sampled futures.

Comment author: Leonhart 13 December 2010 08:22:12PM 1 point [-]

I automatically read "party I can join" in the RPG "adventuring party" sense. Uh-oh.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 13 December 2010 08:24:17PM 0 points [-]

Well, for LRPG players, the two meanings aren't completely disjoint.

Comment author: [deleted] 13 December 2010 06:49:16PM *  2 points [-]

Is it my glass-half-empty outlook talking, or is Eliezer taking potshots at reality with several of the dystopic descriptions?

Comment author: Strange7 18 April 2011 12:31:26PM 7 points [-]

The "10% of women" bit was my tipoff. If it's a dystopia, maximally unpleasant within the bounds of plausibility, why not 90% or more?

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 14 December 2010 10:18:18AM 11 points [-]

Technological weirdtopia: (This is slightly similar to Eliezer's description of scientific weirdtopia but not quite.)

Each piece of technological equipment is only allowed to those people who've displayed sufficient mastery of the corresponding technology of the previous level. Nobody's allowed a car or motorbike, unless they've mastered driving a horsecart or riding a horse (or atleast a mule). Pens are only allowed if someone can write sufficiently well with quill-and-ink, matches and lighters are only permitted to those who've mastered usage of the flint-and-tinder. Pocket calculators are restricted to those mathematical operations that their user could (given sufficient time) work out with pen-and-paper.

The idea behind this is to increase appreciation of technology, and to also maintain an adequate level of knowledge in the population about former technical levels if there's a catastrophic collapse/decline in civilization that destroys more modern technology.

Comment author: wedrifid 14 December 2010 11:42:38AM 2 points [-]

That sounds like hacker heaven!

(Although I rather hope life a safety net of supporting technologies is in place!)

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 14 December 2010 12:29:54PM 2 points [-]

Would this be worth it if lifespans aren't extended?

What do you need to master to be allowed to use life extension tech?

Enforcement of rules like that would be a challenge.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 14 December 2010 12:41:41PM 6 points [-]

Probably not worth it, no -- though most kids would go through gramophones, casette players and CDs in a matter of weeks or months before they reached MP3s and music directly downloadable into your brain.

And we could say that life-extension tech and other health-supportive technologies are excluded from this requirement, so as to prevent this weirdtopia from being a simple dystopia.

Comment author: Strange7 17 December 2010 09:10:38PM 3 points [-]

Two explanations I can think of.

Simpler one is, having your life extended by medical interventions doesn't require proficiency because you're not /using/ the technology in question, just paying someone else to use it on your behalf (specifically, on your body). Same way that world wouldn't require someone to master calligraphy before dictating a letter to be written down by a secretary.

Weirder one is, failure to fast-track your kids through basic medical tech is considered a form of child abuse, on the same level as denying them social contact or nutrition, and for the same reasons.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 16 December 2010 08:14:51AM 31 points [-]

Economic Weirdtopia: The generalization of Internet blacklists -- think Spamhaus -- to general boycotts and strikes.

Anyone can publish their own blacklist on any basis or none at all. You can subscribe to any blacklist, which will block you from having economic relations with entities on that list. You won't see a blacklisted company's products offered for sale in a store. If you own a store, people on a blacklist you subscribe to won't be able to enter. If you subscribe to a list that just blacklisted your employer, you're now out on strike.

Some blacklists are defined on moral or ethical terms: the Sierra Club publishes one; so does Focus on the Family. Others are defined on reputational terms: Consumerist's is well-followed in certain circles. Again: Anyone can publish a blacklist. If I get ripped off by someone, I put them on my personal blacklist, to which some of my friends and relatives subscribe. Popular blacklists become more and more influential, and people endeavor to avoid being put on them.

Some blacklists block anyone who doesn't subscribe to them. Some blacklists block anyone who subscribes to certain other blacklists. Some blacklists are transitive. The Ku Klux Klan publishes a blacklist of non-white people and businesses that employ them. The Southern Poverty Law Center publishes a blacklist of everyone who uses the Klan's blacklist.

One very popular blacklist lists people who change their blacklist subscriptions too frequently.

Sexual Weirdtopia: Truly comprehensive sexual education.

Before you graduate high school, you've fucked and been fucked; flogged and been flogged; received at least one (purely experimental, rather innocuous) sexually transmitted disease and had it cured; experienced monogamy including (artificially heightened) jealousy; cheated and been cheated on; loved and lost. You haven't really been raped, or impregnated, or killed by autoerotic asphyxiation: but you've taken memory tape from people who have. You've been through Leather Week and Furry Week and BiPolySwitch Week and Transvestite Week and Cybersex Week and Quiet Family Week and Asexual Week.

So has everyone else, just as they've been to biology class and civics class and gym class. You've seen a cross-section of all the fetishes, kinks, perversions of human sexual experience -- their risks, their appeals, and the skills you'd need to learn to really enjoy them and be appreciated by others who enjoy them.

You are now expected to choose a sexual orientation in the same way that you choose a career: based on your talents, your interests, and what's in demand.

Guidance counseling is available.

Comment author: thepokeduck 16 December 2010 08:28:25AM -1 points [-]

I really like your idea for comprehensive sexual education. Something I have said for a long time is that everyone should have their heart broken once, as part of being human, because once you know what that feels like, you understand the stakes of romance. I feel that this post takes that sentiment and expands and develops it much more fully.

Comment author: wedrifid 16 December 2010 01:07:54PM *  14 points [-]

Something I have said for a long time is that everyone should have their heart broken once, as part of being human, because once you know what that feels like, you understand the stakes of romance.

That's... horrible. You're advocating doing permanent emotional damage to people. Sure, most of the will heal, some will grow from the experience but none will be the same. It's torture.

Comment author: Jack 16 December 2010 03:34:38PM 2 points [-]

This is just a different variation on the human-Super Happy debate.

Comment author: wedrifid 16 December 2010 04:44:59PM *  7 points [-]

What? Without wanting to disrespect the relationship you have identified between the two concepts the difference are enormously important to my perception.. This isn't allowing people to have painful experiences. This is actively torturing them so they know what torture feels like.

I've never had my heart broken. But I have certainly experienced heartache enough to at least to at least be able to emphasise in part what it would be like for those who have endured months of turmoil from that kind of emotional wound. You just don't do that to people.

If you must give folks preparatory emotional experiences give them a two week summer fling that ends. Like Grease only Sandy goes back to Australia. Or systematically teach them some generic emotional coping skills like a sane society would.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 16 December 2010 04:52:37PM 4 points [-]

Actually "have their hearts broken" was the term he used. That you replace it with the word "torture" isn't helpful in keeping the focus on what is actually discussed.

Though I'm all in favour of torturing people that actually want to know what torture feels like. An American reporter had himself waterboarded, which was when he started opposing the practice of waterboarding.

If it helped make him a better person as a result, and helped him start oppose the much worse harm done on others, it was a good thing he got waterboarded.

Comment author: wedrifid 16 December 2010 05:10:57PM 3 points [-]

Actually "have their hearts broken" was the term he used. That you replace it with the word "torture" isn't helpful in keeping the focus on what is actually discussed.

No, and I actually downvoted your objection because this is important. What was actually being discussed was equivalence to Superhappy debates. I am asserting that torture is a far more appropriate analogy - albeit the stakes with mere torture are far lower than the stakes in systematically rewriting our species' DNA.

On a technical note and without necessarily being require for my point - breaking people's hearts would absolutely fit the definition of torture. Moreover if it were possible to do without the whole pesky 'falling in love' part it would almost certainly be used for that purpose by military organisations.

Though I'm all in favour of torturing people that actually want to know what torture feels like.

And if everybody wanted to have their hearts broken this proposal would not be outrageous.

Comment author: Jack 16 December 2010 05:37:32PM 1 point [-]

I'm not strictly endorsing the original proposal. But if we think some degree and certain types of pain adds depth to our personalities and enriches our existence then the question becomes how much pain and what kinds of pain should we let ourselves experience. We probably want to say no to water-boarding and yes to mild disappointment and scraped knees. A world without heartbreak (which I realize isn't the same thing as forcing people to experience heartbreak) seems to involve costs: fewer tragedies get written, people don't understand love quite the same way, no one understands pop music from the 20th century, etc. I'm not sure how one even begins to weigh the costs and benefits.

Making everyone experience heartbreak seems like going too far to me but in exactly the same way scraped knees are going too far according to the Super Happies.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 16 December 2010 07:33:11PM 1 point [-]

I'm not sure how one even begins to weigh the costs and benefits.

It's not a trivial problem. But I think if I don't at least attempt such a weighing, I'm not taking the problem seriously.

For my part, it makes no sense to me that the actual suffering should ever be valuable enough to want either to participate in it or to encourage others to do so. If having suffered through X is valuable, then I might encourage taking on the memory of having suffered through it, but that's no reason to make them go through X. (Assuming, of course, that my communications technology is adequate to that task. If the only way I know to communicate suffering is to make others suffer, then my options are of course limited, but I ought to work on relaxing that limitation.)

All of the examples you give are of the benefits of the memories of suffering. I don't need to currently be suffering to receive those benefits.

Comment author: [deleted] 16 December 2010 04:11:15PM *  6 points [-]

I agree strongly with wedrifid. This is like claiming that everyone should experience a death in their family at least once so that they can appreciate the value of life.

Comment author: Nornagest 17 December 2010 12:26:11AM *  4 points [-]

I think I'm still agnostic on the original debate, but the family death analogy fails. There is a difference in kind between an unpleasant but temporary experience and the permanent termination of sapient experience.

The analogy to the death of a beloved pet might be stronger. Similar emotional consequences, but doesn't implicitly require serious negative externalities unless you hold strong views on animal rights.

Comment author: [deleted] 22 December 2010 11:50:13PM 3 points [-]

I agree that the analogy fails if you take stock of the total damage caused, which is much worse in the case I offered, but I was focusing on the personal feelings of bereavement of the sufferer. I should have added a phrase mentioning that caveat; I was actually considering it, and I'm not sure why I decided against it.

Anyway, I can think of ways to make the analogy better in that regard, but it has the unfortunate side effect of making the analogous situation seem a lot more contrived and far less natural. The first thing that occurs to me is to take the example of warfare mentioned below and make it into a simulation; the person in question thinks they are killing people and watching their friends die and actually gets wounded and suffers PTSD and returns home to live with their memories and try to adjust for years, before it is all revealed to have been a carefully controlled experience, that everybody who "died" is actually fine and/or never existed, and that he was never in any real danger of dying or being permanently damaged.

Another would be to change my first analogy a bit; instead of the family member dying, they are forced to move away to a far away place never to return (and this actually happens, with proof and everything, as opposed to being some sort of unpleasant euphemism for extermination). No communication or reunion is ever allowed.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 16 December 2010 05:11:38PM 7 points [-]

Should people be allowed to have their hearts broken, ever, whether or not a society does it to them deliberately?

Comment author: MartinB 16 December 2010 05:34:36PM 3 points [-]

I would ask differently: Should one be able to have ones heart broken only after knowing a certain amount about the mechanics of relationships, or should one be able to go about this with out any preventative information whatsoever?

There is a reason why people learn about contraception as young as possible. A similar thing could be done for the social aspects of relationships reducing the pain and surprise experienced.

Comment author: [deleted] 16 December 2010 11:01:48PM *  21 points [-]

My own attempt at answering this question was to think for at least 5 minutes of ways in which a society could possibly avoid its people having their hearts broken, and evaluate the solutions on a do want/do not want scale.

The first method would be to never let anybody fall in love again. Either humans would be modified such that they would never feel love again, or they would be isolated such that they could never interact with the appropriate gender (so... straight men with each other, straight women with each other, gay men and lesbian women in single pairs, bisexuals by themselves, etc... if not just isolating everybody individually). This strikes me as completely unacceptable.

The second approach would be to avoid heartbreaks once a person has fallen in love. We consider the cases where a person might have his or her heart broken after that event: the other person might reject them initially, lie to them and string them along until revelation, love them back for a time but eventually stop feeling the same way and leave them, do something that causes first person to leave them while still being in love themselves (cheating, spousal rape, etc...), or be separated from the first person due to circumstances beyond control (death, physical separation due to economic circumstances, etc...). At least, those are all the ways I can think of.

Hopefully, by the time we can seriously talk about eliminating heartbreaks as an implementable policy, the latter will no longer be a serious consideration for people. The case of lying could be taken care of if humans were prevented from lying somehow, either in a specific case (humans can't lie to their partners while in a relationship/can't lie when saying "I love you"/some other constrain) or the general case (humans can't lie at all); I must admit that the former seems to me mildly attractive depending on how it is implemented. To handle the case of people falling out of love, humans could be modified such that they never fall out of love once they have become enamored of someone who loves them back and they have become lovers. This is definitely interesting; I can't see any immediate objections to that one that aren't part of the fully general "ick! You are changing me and taking away my free will" reflex. The rejection case could be solved by making it such that people reciprocate love once someone has fallen in love with them, maybe even changing orientations to do so; I don't really like this one. Comparing it with the last case discussed, the difference seems to be the difference between making a change and preserving a state; I'm not sure this is something I should care about much, so I will consider it more fully later. And the last case... oh, hell, I don't know. I don't think taking away the ability to do such things works without also removing the intentions, unless their partner never finds out about them.

The third way would be to let people fall in love, but only with people who would not break their hearts. It seems like creating human imitations who would always love one, a la Failed Utopia #4-2, is one possible venue of attack. It also looks like some ideas from the second set of situations coulde be re-applied with a bit of tweaking...

Aaaand I'm gonna stop there, because I just realized that on top of this, I have to consider all the cases for the polyamorists, too. Jesus Christ, people are complicated; Randall Munroe was right. Sorry if this seems confused, but that's mostly because it is; this is the first time I have seriously considered the problem. Still, I hope to have contributed something with my post.

Comment author: AdeleneDawner 17 December 2010 03:07:17AM 7 points [-]

Aaaand I'm gonna stop there, because I just realized that on top of this, I have to consider all the cases for the polyamorists, too. Jesus Christ, people are complicated.

Upvoted for exactly this.

Comment author: orthonormal 17 December 2010 03:41:41AM *  0 points [-]

How about the proposal I came up with on this problem?

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 17 December 2010 10:38:56AM 8 points [-]

Upvoted for thinking about the problem for five minutes.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 17 December 2010 01:47:41PM 4 points [-]

A General Theory of Love has the plausible idea that social animals (especially humans, who are the only ones who die in infancy from isolation) need contact to regulate various bodily functions.

Heartbreak could presumably be prevented if those bodily functions can no longer be disrupted beyond a certain point. This would also mean that grief would be blunted a lot.

I think it makes sense that the positive side of love could still happen without the misery of losing it.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 18 September 2011 04:10:01AM 1 point [-]

As someone who has experienced romantic happiness without having ever experienced romantic tragedy, I can confirm that love without heartbreak is pleasant and is not meaningless for at least one person.

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 18 September 2011 04:42:28AM 0 points [-]

You're probably at risk for romantic misery-- I was talking about the general structure, not about needing emotional contrast.

Comment author: Desrtopa 17 December 2010 03:16:07PM 1 point [-]

The rejection case could be solved by making it such that people reciprocate love once someone has fallen in love with them, maybe even changing orientations to do so

This sounds like a really bad patch.

Comment author: Kingreaper 17 December 2010 03:24:15PM *  9 points [-]

The rejection case could be solved by making it such that people reciprocate love once someone has fallen in love with them, maybe even changing orientations to do so; I don't really like this one.

A more elegant solution if you're going to be messing around with love, and modifying the whole courting element would be to have person 1 not fall in love unless person 2 was also in position to fall in love.

ie. when your system detects that a person is falling for someone, it deletes that, but keeps the fact on record. If the second person reciprocates, they're both allowed to experience love.

In such a world you could also help solve the heartbreak problem through the same means, once one of the two falls out of love, they both do.

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 17 December 2010 03:28:32PM *  6 points [-]

That was more or less precisely the thought going through my mind when I was imagining how I would design the system if I was doing it from scratch. Though not with the "mark and delete" part, just "check to see if love is reciprocable before allowing process to proceed".

Comment author: Jack 17 December 2010 04:22:50PM *  7 points [-]

check to see if love is reciprocable before allowing process to proceed".

Does this mean extrapolating how person 2 will feel after they spend more time with person 1? Would you take into account the presence of a third person who might steal the affections of person 2? I guess we could solve love triangles by duplicating people.

Love also doesn't seem to me like a binary event, we'd want to allow relationships that would progress to any level on a mutual love spectrum and then stop people from falling deeper in love when their partner would not follow.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 17 December 2010 04:49:20PM 4 points [-]

Here and elsewhere, I don't really see the "don't let things get too bad" solution as categorically separable from just bloody optimizing the process already.

E.g., sure, a generate-and-test mechanism like you propose for relationships is an improvement over the existing no-test version; agreed. But I see it as a step along the way to a more fully optimized system... for example, one where the people most likely to construct mutually satisfying relationships (which include reciprocal-love arrangements, if that's what you're into) are proactively introduced to one another.

Comment author: Perplexed 17 December 2010 03:43:21PM 2 points [-]

I'm a bit surprised to see this topic being discussed here, but since it is, I'd like to mention a movie I saw recently (NetFlix streaming) that explored some of the complications that might arise.

Comment author: Armok_GoB 17 December 2010 05:31:34PM 10 points [-]

Another possibility is to have everyone always being in love with everyone.

Comment author: wedrifid 17 December 2010 02:00:48AM 2 points [-]

Sure, if they are into that sort of thing I don't particularly care. That said it isn't a right that I'm excessively enamored with. If the superhappys were going to remove our ability to have our hearts broken I wouldn't blow up earth to prevent it.

Comment author: Strange7 18 April 2011 12:43:09PM 0 points [-]

Of course they won't be the same. That's the point, like the way your immune system won't be the same after a vaccination. Being a thoughtless jerk to someone who loves you isn't as serious a problem as dying of polio, but it might still be worth fixing.

Comment author: MartinB 16 December 2010 05:37:47PM 6 points [-]

You can construct similar arguments for other topics:

  • everyone should go to war once, to experience fights, and learn why peace is so valuable
  • everyone should get severely hurt once, to learn to value his body

And from recent experiences: everyone should get a root canal once to learn to take care of his teeth.

Heartbreaks are not necessary in my book.

Comment author: RomanDavis 17 December 2010 12:46:57PM *  3 points [-]

I do think I have a richer human experience because of the fights I've been in, and the heartbreak I've felt.

I'm not sure, if it for ''everyone.'' I tend to assume the future should be a place of less coercion, not more.

But I could see the value in a human race that partook of severe injury as an occasional vice in the same way as say, spicy food.

Comment author: Strange7 18 April 2011 12:45:53PM 3 points [-]

severe injury as an occasional vice

I count this possibility as a major point in favor of Sufficiently Advanced medical technology.

Comment author: Alicorn 16 December 2010 12:33:35PM 9 points [-]

You haven't really been raped

What if someone doesn't want to take this class (perhaps in the same way that they might not like biology, civics, or gym, but still doesn't want it?)

Comment author: Jack 16 December 2010 03:25:32PM *  10 points [-]

It's a high school class: the outside view would indicate the vast majority would be there non-consensually.

Comment author: fubarobfusco 16 December 2010 11:32:27PM *  14 points [-]

Perhaps you don't graduate -- same as if you didn't take any other required class.

Perhaps you just flunk sex ed, but graduate on the strength of your other grades.

Perhaps there's an opt-out for people with religious objections, as there was for sex-ed (er, "Family Life Education"; thank you, Commonwealth of Virginia) when I was in high school. Or as some high schools have for the evolution unit in biology.

Perhaps you're not required to physically participate but you must at least watch your classmates participate, as with the fetal-pig dissection in my high school biology class.

Perhaps it just never comes up.

Or perhaps Weirdtopians just have a notion of consent that deeply appalls us. They wouldn't be Weirdtopians if they weren't, you know, weird. This isn't a policy proposal; it's a discussion of a deeply weird alternative.

(Point taken, though.)

Comment author: wedrifid 17 December 2010 02:27:27AM 20 points [-]

Perhaps there's an opt-out for people with religious objections, as there was for sex-ed

If necessary I'l found a new religion for the purpose. I'll set myself up as the messiah of not getting raped.

Comment author: WrongBot 21 December 2010 02:21:54AM 13 points [-]

At last, a religious doctrine I can wholeheartedly support!

Comment author: TheOtherDave 16 December 2010 02:51:58PM 22 points [-]

The Groucho Marx blacklist blocks anyone who subscribes to it.

Comment author: Larks 16 December 2010 02:59:07PM 11 points [-]

Can you also blacklist blacklists - prevent yourself from interacting with blacklists?

And then can you create a blacklist intentionally?

And then create a blacklist of all those lists that didn't blacklist themselves?

Comment author: [deleted] 16 December 2010 11:06:41PM 10 points [-]

Only if your name is Bertrand Russell.

Comment author: Strange7 17 December 2010 09:28:32PM 17 points [-]

As I understand it, you are automatically subscribed to any blacklist you, personally, created. As such, a blacklist of all those lists that didn't blacklist themselves would effectively lock you away from any person, organization, or thing that participated in the blacklist system, including all your own material possessions, including food and the devices by which you might register intent to unsubscribe.

"Self-reference" would be listed in morbidity & mortality databases as a type of suicide.

Comment author: Larks 16 December 2010 02:46:52PM 2 points [-]

Sexual Weirdtopia:

Everyone is celebate every other year. Because these periods go between birthdays, people arrange relationships on this basis, and there are tragic couples born on the same day but a year apart.

Comment author: Leonhart 16 December 2010 03:11:35PM 6 points [-]

Why would this be an improvement? Weirdtopia is not just weird customs, it's weird customs that are still recognisably an improvement. Let's be careful not to dilute the meaning.

Comment author: Larks 16 December 2010 03:37:53PM 1 point [-]

It could have many of the benefits of serial monogamy, while making coordination a lot easier. During the celibate periods people wouldn't get distracted by sex at all. It'll encourage people to plan their lives, rather than just drifting. It would allow people to get any benefit from asceticism, whilst also benefitting from sexual relations; possibly even becoming Millean Competent Judges...

I don't actually think it would be an improvement. But it doesn't seem to be more obviously worse than many of the previously mentioned wierdtopias.

Comment author: Leonhart 16 December 2010 03:52:17PM 3 points [-]

Ah, now I take your meaning. Perhaps "asexual" would have been a better term than "celibate".

I still think there's some confusion here, though it might be me. If you don't think it's an improvement on reflection, it's not a weirdtopia.

Comment author: Jack 16 December 2010 03:58:14PM 2 points [-]

It doesn't seem to be more obviously worse than many of the previously mentioned wierdtopias.

It's 50% less sex!

Comment author: Strange7 17 December 2010 09:35:07PM 4 points [-]

Actually, it's 50% less aggregate demand for sex.

You could spend even-numbered year being a good little worker-bee and saving up, with considerably less relationship-drama to distract you from maximum productivity, and odd-numbered years blowing it all on booze and hookers, for a net increase in sexual activity and net decrease in sexual frustration.

Comment author: Larks 17 December 2010 09:42:09PM 2 points [-]

Yes, in the same way that being half-asleep for 24 hours a day won't necessarily make you better rested.

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 16 December 2010 03:50:08PM 2 points [-]

I'd say recognizably a possible improvement. If the weirdness was just an improvement, in no uncertain terms, it'd be just a utopia.

That having been said, the grandparent post needs justify what's the society's reasoning regarding these "tragic" couples not being able to petition their celibacy cycles to synch. Otherwise it's just a dystopia.

And also to explain whether the celibacy is enforced by custom, law, or biological modification.

Comment author: Leonhart 16 December 2010 03:55:52PM 1 point [-]

I'd distinguish between "possible improvement" and "definite improvement, but only perceived as such after you've worked through your initial squick".

Comment author: ArisKatsaris 16 December 2010 04:36:59PM 1 point [-]

Eliezer in the original post talked about arguable improvements, not definite ones.

Comment author: Strange7 18 April 2011 11:21:14AM 2 points [-]

My understanding of love, as distinct from lust, is that it involves wanting the other person to be happy even when their preferences are otherwise different from your own.

As such, I imagine an out-of-sync couple would have a single set of sex toys, passed back and forth as perennial birthday presents. Whoever was using them this year would fantasize about the other partner's activities of the previous year, which seemed uninteresting at the time.

Alternatively, and especially if the lusty/celibate cycle ratio was different, the ideal marriage could be a ring rather than a pair: spend the first half with someone who activated before you, the second half with someone who activated after, maybe loneliness or three-ways in between depending on the timing, and then pass the passion on down the line.

Comment author: Alicorn 16 December 2010 04:19:32PM *  17 points [-]

Technological/Cognitive Weirdtopia: Everyone runs on computronium, in a simulation that starts out rather like normal, but everybody has an undo button: at your option you can undo everything except progress made in your own mind, up to any point in your life since the simulation began. There are safeguards in place to prevent two people from doing this at the exact same time, but otherwise there are no limitations on use; you can redo a second or a century, once or a thousand times. It takes a lot of "real" time for the simulation to progress to everyone's satisfaction beyond the first five minutes.

Comment author: Perplexed 16 December 2010 04:41:15PM 3 points [-]

So, you can undo progress made in other people's minds, just not your own? Or does everyone remember what they learned in those alternative realities.

I don't know about you, but most of the time when I find myself wishing I had an "undo button", it is other people's memories of my mistakes that I really want to erase.

Comment author: Alicorn 16 December 2010 04:49:16PM *  0 points [-]

Yes, including other people's memories. And if you rewind to before some younger person's conception, you can prevent their existence outright should you take the relevant actions.

Comment author: Perplexed 16 December 2010 05:23:31PM 13 points [-]

So in a world with only two people, both determined to win at paper, stone, scissors, you risk an infinite cycle and may never get to 5 minutes of simulated time.

Comment author: Alicorn 16 December 2010 05:25:55PM *  4 points [-]

Well, yes, that could happen.

Comment author: benelliott 17 December 2010 05:47:35PM 4 points [-]

Perhaps you only have a set number of tries before you just have to accept what happens. This might actually be an improvement, since while it would definitely be nice to redo my worst mistakes and to experiment before trying something difficult, life might get a bit meaningless if there were never any permanent consequences to anything.

Comment author: Strange7 18 December 2010 12:43:34AM 2 points [-]

In that sense, it would be a world where sufficient willpower (in the sense of boredom-resistance) really can achieve nearly anything.

Comment author: Perplexed 18 December 2010 12:49:47AM 2 points [-]

Or if not achieve something, at least prevent the other guy from achieving anything.

However, in this scenario, it doesn't take much willpower. Every time someone pushes 'reset', (s)he thinks it is the first time the button has been pushed.

So it requires determinism, not determination, to keep on doing what you did before. ;)

Comment author: Strange7 18 December 2010 09:37:43PM 1 point [-]

Only if each reset went back further than the other player's last reset, which obviously isn't a stable equilibrium.

Comment author: katydee 16 December 2010 05:38:34PM *  5 points [-]

This post strongly reminds me of the superlative time-travel game Braid-- by an interesting coincidence (or perhaps not), this game is currently bundled with four other good indie games in a pay-as-you-want bundle if anyone else is interested.

Comment author: gwern 16 December 2010 09:27:04PM 6 points [-]

As someone who has paid for it ($15), I'd just like to mention for all the other Linuxers here, the games seem in general to run well on Linux. Braid in particular runs very well here.

Comment author: lsparrish 18 December 2010 12:33:46AM 1 point [-]

I like this "universal Peggy Sue" idea. I wonder if the computronium might be replaced by weird physics.

One technology plausible in a time travel world could be undoing time travel changes by going back further in time and thereby preventing the time travel from occurring. Also, whether the passing of a given moment happens by deterministic or non-deterministic processes could be variable. In order to revisit a specific future you could always follow a particular previously determined worldline to it.

In my weirdtopian extrapolation of this notion, there's a vast set of worlds which trillions of people are swapping back and forth between all the time (with careful tracking of the necessary pasts using computerized transporters), without giving a moment's thought to the fact that they are destroying all of the previous universes they have been to. "Ah yes, my living room is in the Mesozoic era on Earth 12..."

Another related (but maybe less weird) scenario would be a world where time can be treated as a bankable resource. People could go into stasis for a day, then suddenly perform actions twice as fast over the following day, or instantly use up their day in the course of a moment. They would also be free to sell their days, thus getting shoved further into the future, or purchase new ones for productivity and/or relaxation purposes.

Comment author: Yvain 18 December 2010 07:56:34PM *  1 point [-]

See: The Void Trilogy, Peter Hamilton.

Comment author: Dorikka 16 December 2010 06:57:57PM 0 points [-]

I'm curious as to whether there exists a single intelligence-configuration which would theoretically optimize the ability of such intelligences to have fun (as the term has been used in this sequence.) Somehow, most attempts at Utopia/Weirdtopia give me the feeling of being momentary distractions that people will tire of after a pretty short time of living in them -- perhaps this is a result of evolutionary psychology, as I don't think that [ability to have fun] necessarily increases genetic fitness.

Comment author: steven0461 17 December 2010 06:36:54AM *  11 points [-]

If longevity utopia is an L-year lifespan for some large L and longevity dystopia is a ten-year lifespan, here's a longevity weirdtopia. Divide everyone's L-year life into L/10 ten-year pieces separated by long intervals of "pause" or "hibernation", and make these pause intervals so long that the group of people "awake" at any point in time is only a small fraction of the world population, with different people constantly rotating in and out. (I'm assuming here that total "awake" person-years and not total civilization-years are the limiting resource. And obviously I'm skipping over a lot of things, like procreation. But there's a lot of room to vary the scheme in response to all the obvious objections.)

Some reasons why I find this idea interesting and not just weird: 1) it would help solve problems involving Dunbar's number, 2) it might turn world history into something less massively parallel and more like a story, 3) there's a "deep time" feel, 4) I wonder to what extent it assuages people's sense (justified or not) that death gives life meaning.

Comment author: Desrtopa 20 December 2010 10:56:20PM *  1 point [-]

Inspired by the forum structure of Less Wrong

Currency has been replaced by a point system based on one's total contributions to society. Points determine one's value allowance of luxuries, but all necessary commodities are provided regardless of point level. A certain requisite level of points is required to hold various positions of responsibility. Points can also be spent for the privilege of breaking various rules or social expectations, or for taking away points from others (thus taking away their right to hold a position of responsibility, as well as their privileges) at a costly rate of conversion. The assumption is that even if people accrue points in order to victimize others or spend them on rule breaking privileges, the conversion rate will still require them to perform net positive contributions to society in the process.

On further reflection, I suppose this isn't that different from the system we already have, but it might be able to beat it if you suppose that we can do better than the free market at judging people's overall contribution to society.

Comment author: Peter_de_Blanc 24 January 2011 06:04:54PM 14 points [-]

Weirdtopia: sex is private. Your own memories of sex are only accessible while having sex. People having sex in public will be noticed but forgotten. Your knowledge of who your sex partners are is only accessible when it is needed to arrange sex. You will generally have warm feelings towards your sex partners, but you will not know the reason for these feelings most of the time, nor will you be curious. When you have sex, you will take great joy in realizing/remembering that this person you love is your sex partner.

Comment author: Strange7 18 April 2011 01:03:24PM 17 points [-]

Your knowledge of who your sex partners are is only accessible when it is needed to arrange sex.

As a result of the necessity of some degree of masturbation for efficient planning, nearly everyone has a fetish for rigorously accurate schedules. Phrases of the form "[politician] made the trains run on time" are provocative and disorienting to the point of being completely socially unacceptable.

Comment author: TheOtherDave 18 April 2011 01:22:04PM 14 points [-]

This comment made far more sense to me once I paid attention to what thread it was in.

Comment author: roomanitarian 06 May 2011 05:02:10PM 16 points [-]

Hi All -

This is my first time posting a comment here @ Less Wrong.

I really liked both this post and Eliezer's story 'Three Worlds Collide' - so much so that I've written my own weirdtopian story, 'Round Robin'.

You can read it at the following link, if you'd like:


p.s. I apologize that this comment is kinda spammy - I'm posting it because I actually think you might be interested, not to drive traffic (but you'd just have to take my word on that :)

Comment author: Alicorn 06 May 2011 05:18:37PM 1 point [-]

Your story was good, but what really moved me to comment was the charming innocuousness of the title.

Comment author: roomanitarian 07 May 2011 04:52:26AM 1 point [-]

Thanks :)

Comment author: Eliezer_Yudkowsky 07 May 2011 05:15:00AM 3 points [-]


Comment author: roomanitarian 09 May 2011 06:44:46PM 1 point [-]

Thank you so much!

Comment author: MinibearRex 07 May 2011 05:29:52AM 2 points [-]

I'm impressed by your writing. Post more, and welcome to Less Wrong!

Comment author: roomanitarian 09 May 2011 06:46:54PM 2 points [-]

Many thanks!

Sidenote: There's a new short story @ Word Cereal every week

(This week's is running a little behind, but we won't mention that :)

Comment author: cousin_it 07 May 2011 06:24:18PM *  11 points [-]

Your story doesn't immediately come across as a horrible dystopia only because you chose not to depict the emotions men would feel when leaving their kids behind, or to describe the truly equitable arrangement where women would be forced to leave their kids behind 50% of the time.

Comment author: roomanitarian 09 May 2011 06:59:49PM 0 points [-]

I hear you - and I don't disagree.

However, I ask that you imagine it from the perspective of a small village.

It's fairly well known that, in some villages, everyone is responsible for raising the children, not just the parents who conceived them. Over time, this process might evolve and grow, as populations evolve and grow, into the modern day version I've depicted.

In this latest version of the system, you're still allowed to keep in touch with the children you've conceived (and the wives you've had); it's just that someone else from your village is raising them right now.

And this seems weird (which is the point), but not when you consider that this system didn't come about overnight, but grew from something that made a lot more sense when the population was smaller.

Does that make any sense?

Comment author: Barry_Cotter 09 May 2011 08:13:56PM 2 points [-]

It's fairly well known that, in some villages, everyone is responsible for raising the children, not just the parents who conceived them. Over time, this process might evolve and grow, as populations evolve and grow, into the modern day version I've depicted.

I think this is stretching the reality of the situation a fair bit. In societies with very strong and consistent social norms, in communities where everybody more or less knows everybody (less than the Dunbar number), anybody can discipline children who are misbehaving. The children still have a mother and a home, and they know who that is and where it is. This will be much weaker in societies that aren't so much about the nuclear family.

I can't see any plausible mechanism to get a society with apartments and suburbs doing this though. (Meaning such a society would not develop such living arrangements, and such living arrangements would rapidly destroy such a social arrangement)

It's well written. You may have inspired me to write my own weirdtopia.

Comment author: Normal_Anomaly 07 May 2011 07:34:31PM 8 points [-]

It's a well-written story, and you packed a lot of characterization into not much text. But you show some gender bias that you may or may not be aware of. For instance, in weirdtopia men move around while women stay with the house and kids, and you say that in utopia, "Men provide stable home-lives for their wives and children." Do you believe that it's better for men to work for a living and women to stay at home and raise children, or am I reading too much into literary license?

Comment author: roomanitarian 09 May 2011 07:11:34PM 3 points [-]

I'm pleased to hear that you liked my characters. I'm new to writing and characterization is something I'm focused on improving.

You're right, and I'm willing to own a certain amount of gender-bias. While I have no problem at all with woman having equal rights, I do on some level tend to see the world tinted with a "men hunt/gather and women nest" perspective.

I hadn't noticed that come through in the story, though, until you pointed it out. Honestly, I think length played a large part in it.

As you noted, I don't have a great deal of room to work with, as the point of Word Cereal is that it's short fiction - something you could consume as regularly as, say, a webcomic.

Streamlining the system to move only men made it much easier to set the stage, though that's a decision I'd made subconsciously when I wrote it, that I'm only seeing (and justifying) now.

Anyway, thanks for the kind words and insight :)

Comment author: JohnH 06 May 2011 07:47:07PM *  3 points [-]

As the true knowledge of science is kept for the conspiracies then only those that have tried and failed in the conspiracies are able to work on or build technologies as those that have succeeded are busy finding new things and making new technology. To those that have only learned the publicly available knowledge this technology is like magic or religion and as they have never been curious about the conspiracies enough to try to understand the technology it remains that way. The technology provides for their every need and want and while the common people do much of the work that makes the system work they have no clue as to what it is they do or why. For them the founders of businesses, the scientists, and the whatever else the top conspirators are called are as gods that if obeyed provide for every desire and if spurned bring ruin.

Those that failed to reach that elevated status are then as priests; that is the managers and the technicians. As they, the failed, themselves do not understand fully everything that they do they allow for much ritual and elaborate rules to evolve around the technology such that if one is not a member of the conspiracies then not following the ritual can get one banned or forced into gladiator service.

Those in the conspiracies can wear whatever they wish and do whatever they wish with the technology available to them, they are denied access to anything that they have not yet discovered.

Economic: The economic conspiracy has unlocked the secret of predicting the markets with a high degree of accuracy such that only by trading with inside information can one make money by trading on the market. Likewise due to the social rules only those in the conspiracy (or only through the conspiracy) are businesses formed. This leads to moderately inefficient markets such that nearly any common person (or manager for that matter) could tell one of some business they would like to see formed but as they do not see themselves as able to form a business and it is not socially acceptable to do so they wait for some one in the conspiracy to step in and create the desired business. The AI and conspiracy attempt to stay on top of this and are aware of this inefficiency but have not been able to fix it (leaving the top level of that conspiracy empty).

The conspiracies are extremely wealthy as each has access to vast amounts of inside information and each creates unique highly beneficial products and services.

Government The vast wealth and market control of the economic conspiracies has made normal government obsolete. Elections are held in which the winner is known before hand and is powerless to do anything. Luckily due to the vast improvements of the conspiracies no one expects them to do anything so it works out okay.

The legal code slowly morphs into a neofuedalistic system where those that are in the conspiracy are immune against all accusations involving an uninitiated and presumed innocent even among the failed.

However, instead of trial judge or jury a probabilistic model is created with priors that weighs only the empirical evidence to determine who is guilty of what. Once guilt is determined the model simulates the crime to determine lost utility and an equivalent transfer of utility is assigned as punishment. As public gladiator fights provide high positive utility to the spectators and high negative utility to the criminals the most common form of punishment is gladiator fighting for a predetermined number of fights with pain modifiers to ensure a fair punishment. Cryonics and body regrowth ensure one endures the correct number of fights and allows the fights to be to the death.

Cognitive Augmentation to a high intelligence level is done automatically before birth. Basic minimal implants are given while still children but most are reserved until it is known what if any conspiracy will be sought after.

Once it becomes clear that no knowledge is sought after the option is available to turn ones body over to an AI and have the brain disconnected from the rest of the body so that the AI may use the body as an inexpensive cog in farming or manufacturing. The brain is then given infinite pleasure through simulated experiences.

If that is not desired then one must work for ones living and entertainment as a common person. Additional augmentation is given according to the task assigned to you. Family, religious, and sexual activities are only monitored enough to ensure replacement due to accident or suicide. If unlimited children are desired then one is required to join extra planetary colonization efforts.

The conspiracies limit augmentation according to what could provide evidence of information or theories that are being withheld until they are discovered by the initiates.

That is my attempt.

Comment author: Alicorn 06 May 2011 09:04:37PM 2 points [-]

It's "conspiracy".

Comment author: JohnH 06 May 2011 09:47:25PM *  0 points [-]

oops, I was on a public computer that didn't have spell check.

The spelling errors should be fixed now.

Comment author: HopeFox 09 May 2011 12:53:26AM 14 points [-]

Sexual Weirdtopia:

The government takes a substantial interest in people's sex lives. People are expected to register their sexual preferences with government agencies. A certain level of sexual education and satisfaction is presumed to be a basic right of humanity, along with health care and enough income to live on. Workers are entitled to five days' annual leave for seeking new or maintaining old romantic and sexual relationships, and if your lover leaves you because you're working too hard, you can sue your employer and are likely to win. Private prostitution is illegal, but the government maintains an agency of sex workers, who can be hired for a fee, or allocated free of charge to adults who apply on the basis of "sexual hardship" (defined as having not had sex in the last six months), and form part of "optional field work" for sex education classes at the appropriate level. There are government funded dating and matchmaking agencies. Also, mandatory registration for Creepy Doms and Terrible Exes.

Creepy and more than a little disturbing? Yes. Arguably better than the standard Sexual Utopia in some respects? Yes, if you'd asked me when I was 18 or even 21. What use is a sexually permissive society when you, personally, aren't getting any?

Comment author: NancyLebovitz 09 May 2011 07:45:54AM 8 points [-]

Pushing the weirdness farther: assume tech for adjusting orientation, level of desire, and desire for exclusiveness. Either there are no side effects, or the side effects are considered to be low compared to the effects of people not getting what they want sexually.

Individual sexual parameters are adjusted to maximize sexual harmony in each person's social network (individual change is minimized-- this is presumably NP-hard), so that sexual parameter combinations change as they move through social networks.

Consent is preserved for individual encounters, but being subject to having one's parameters adjusted is mandatory.

Comment author: Manfred 06 July 2011 03:57:34AM *  10 points [-]

Phys. Ed. Utopia: Everyone exercises regularly, eats their wheaties, has athletic sex with good looking people.

Dystopia: Everyone is big and flabby and disgustingly lazy. Ability to use body atrophies until even standing up is an extreme challenge.

Weirdtopia: Children initiate mandatory ninja training at age 5. The world is full of parkour courses where once there were sidewalks. People are judged harshly if they can't keep up.


Rather than classical "good health," fashionable people sculpt their bodies into interesting shapes with the help of highly specific and commonly-performed exercises prescribed by regimen-planning software.

Comment author: endoself 06 July 2011 04:23:16AM 0 points [-]

Rather than classical "good health," fashionable people sculpt their bodies into interesting shapes with the help of highly specific and commonly-performed exercises prescribed by regimen-planning software.

Isn't this how certain sports work already, to the detriment of the athletes' healths?

Comment author: Manfred 06 July 2011 05:23:51AM 0 points [-]

I don't have enough familiarity with the field to easily google up an example, but I meant meeting some abstract aesthetic goal rather than a real-world measurable one. I'm sure someone out there has done this - carefully trained their body to be interestingly asymmetric, or developed only alternate rows of abdominal muscles, or worked out so that when they pose a certain way their body makes a certain set of curves.

Comment author: handoflixue 09 July 2011 12:46:41AM 1 point [-]

Economic: Looking at the common factors, it's about high vs low barriers to entry. The idea of non-entry is thus an obvious place to look. The first thought is a "gift economy". Riffing off the idea of the Bayesian Conspiracy, we get furtive students exchanging notes in dark alleys: a world where economy is forbidden. The exact nature of what resources are available to each Bayesian Initiate are left as an exercise for our FAI Overlords, but should presumably be sufficient to avoid students being incapable of building the requisite experimental apparatuses for their latest project.

Sexual: Again, focusing on the common ground, the difference is "readily available" vs "tightly restricted". Thinking about fun theory, the idea of sex as some sort of reward seems obvious - presumably one related to self-understanding and building relationships. Everyone is situated such that they have a genuine route to satisfaction, whatever their desires may be. I'd suspect desires are also tweaked somewhat downwards - it's more a driving force like curiousity, not an urgent biological imperative. It's rewarding to pursue, not just to receive (but, like curiousity, it works best when you actually achieve the goal). Unsure what durations look like, but things are well-enough tweaked that there aren't violent break-ups when one partner loses interest. Probably sexuality is something that ebbs and flows over time, letting people focus on deep, intimate sharing with people at times, and letting them get lost in other challenges at other times.

Government: Centralization vs Democratization of power; the tyranny of the minority vs the majority. Both are seeking to enforce morality on those who desire to do "wrong". Both are seeking a universal system of moral authority. Certainly, a large chunk of disagreement can be resolved between the combination of being led to understand our own extrapolated volition, and the elimination of scarcity. When there are no factual disagreements, and no suffering from the status of others, then I think it would take a fairly abnormal human to still desire non-consensual violence. This still feels more like a fixed utopia than any sort of weirdtopia though.

Technological: Being lazy, we invoke the Bayesian Conspiracy: you start with next to nothing, and can benefit from those technologies you're able to implement yourself. Given a few thousand years, you ought to have computers back! Please consult economics for the question of resource scarcity; we probably don't want to hand anyone who asks for it a chunk of U-238, and it wouldn't be terribly polite to start the students off with nothing more than an unlimited supply of hydrogen (although if they were the omnipotent administrator of a simulated universe, and could thus build stars, then planets, then life, I'd find the resulting projects utterly fascinating!)

Cognitive: For this one, let's assume the Bayesian Conspiracy doesn't surpress anything developed 21st century or earlier. Computers offer prospective Initiates obvious ways to exponentially amplify their understanding of science, and at a certain Level of the Conspiracy, you have to start showing pretty impressive exponential growth. Since you have to understand a problem before you can build a tool to solve it for you, you now have the ability to automate large chunks of the "boring" parts of science. There's still the joy of discovering more-optimized algorithms, although this will only be relevant for programs with fairly long run times, or for the inherit beauty that comes with elegance. Any unfriendly AI, grey goo, etc. is stopped by the FAI overlords and thus the world is kept safe. This is considered a failing mark, and you are summarily stripped of all the knowledge you've learned from the Conspiracy and forced to start over as a Zeroth Level adept once again. Developing a Friendly AI is required to reach Level 10, at which point you can start doing "raids" (group-based adventures, for those unfamiliar with WOW :)). The FAI Overlords, for whatever reason, can only reproduce via this method, and place a strong value on the diversity this adds to their ranks. Guided AI research is, for whatever reason, unsatisfying to them - it has to be someone who went from pre-science to FAI all on their own. Fortunately, the FAI Overlords aren't omniscient, so some cheating does occur (see Economics). Higher level adepts are usually much better at cheating, which helps prepare them for doing raids.

Comment author: CronoDAS 09 July 2011 01:16:03AM *  0 points [-]

Economic: Looking at the common factors, it's about high vs low barriers to entry. The idea of non-entry is thus an obvious place to look. The first thought is a "gift economy". Riffing off the idea of the Bayesian Conspiracy, we get furtive students exchanging notes in dark alleys: a world where economy is forbidden.

Ever read The Disposessed by Ursula Le Guin? About half of it is set in a society in which "asking for something in exchange" is considered highly immoral.

Comment author: handoflixue 09 July 2011 06:44:43AM 0 points [-]

Interesting! I had not read it - it was mostly based on Burning Man's "gift economy", which has the same principle.

Comment author: KND 30 August 2011 08:35:12AM -1 points [-]

Government Weirdtopia: all nations operate as divisions of a single organization. these subdivisions are further divided into even smaller divisions which are also divided in turn. This pattern continues until it reaches the point of bands approximately the size of hunter-gatherer bands so as to allow full optimization of social relations. each band exerts major control over issues of concern, as well as weaker influence over matters concerning other bands, thus allowing any band to be overruled if it strays too far from what its neighbors consider rational. Bands exert more influence over other communities in nearby locations than those in distant lands. the exception to this is that a community will hold more influence over several communities a random distance anywhere above 2000 miles away than over communities in its immediate vicinity. citizens of one community will be encouraged to simultaneously view neighboring communities as both separate nations and neighboring towns. Any citizen can change the world with a good enough idea that spreads far enough, however more weight shall be given to the opinions of those deemed more trustworthy through carefully administered and highly organized tests designed to test wisdom and competence. Groups of representatives meet to decide issues concerning larger areas, however these representatives must first be proved highly trustworthy and the positions are low paying and temporary, so as to eliminate corruption and ensure that only competent citizens who are truly concerned over the state of the world can hold any real power of much difference from their neighbors.

in this way all states will have complete authority and the power to act swiftly only while making rational decisions, while at the same time being completely restricted when making decisions that can be construed as foolish or malicious. and i DARE someone here to think further outside the box on this issue.

Comment author: Alicorn 30 August 2011 08:58:55AM 0 points [-]

Er, I have no comment on whether this is a good idea, but what makes it a weird idea?

Comment author: Kingreaper 30 August 2011 09:45:56AM 3 points [-]

the exception to this is that a community will hold more influence over several communities a random distance anywhere above 2000 miles away than over communities in its immediate vicinity.

To me, that's the bit that makes it a weird idea. Other than that, it seems like a relatively standard thought pattern (basically, competence tests for voting+ repetitive subdivision of society)

And the weird bit actually seems like a good hack to add on to a repetitive subdivision structure; provided that it's a twinning thing, and not a one-way influence (one-way influence will produce resentment)

It is not, however, the weirdest thing on this discussion, let alone the weirdest idea possible.

Comment author: Oscar_Cunningham 30 August 2011 09:30:52AM 0 points [-]

i DARE someone here to think further outside the box on this issue.

See: P. K. Dick's Solar Lottery (coincidently one of my favourite books).

Comment author: Kingreaper 30 August 2011 09:52:57AM 2 points [-]

I have downvoted this for two reasons: 1. it seems poorly formatted; being essentially a block of text.*

*this may have been accidental, for future information you must leave a two-line gap between separate paragraphs.

and 2. you display a level of arrogance in assuming that your idea is the most original idea available to this community. That is especially jarring as equally original ideas are posted in many of the other comments on this article.

Comment author: lessdazed 30 August 2011 10:26:07AM *  -1 points [-]

someone here

Me too, specifically, I dare you!

As hard as it is to come up with good solutions to problems, starting from scratch and ignoring what you already thought of is even harder. You're not done once you answered once only (by the way, I haven't thought of one at all). KND 8:35:12 thought of something, has KND 8:40?

This isn't an Olympic event where you can only win one medal; the same person could win the silver and the gold in this, unlike in the 100 meter dash...not that it's a competition.

One entry per person makes more sense if the goal is to see which person has the best idea(s), as a status thing, but if the goal is to produce and discuss ideas, it doesn't have to be limited to that.

Comment author: Strange7 01 September 2011 06:24:44AM 3 points [-]

Widespread access to cryogenic suspension and reliable, reversible neuron <=> computer conversion and 'immunological reset' techniques redefine the popular concept of identity to the point that internal organs are considered transferable property rather than part of an individual. Pumping blood with the same heart you were born with is as unfashionable as living in your parents' basement. The law changes to reflect this, so that (for example) any given military surgeon has training in when and how to exercise the option of putting injured soldiers back together using parts from nearby civilians, and hardly anyone objects so long as appropriate monetary compensation is provided. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eminent_domain

Comment author: [deleted] 01 September 2011 07:58:05AM 4 points [-]

Family Weirdtopia: Individual autonomy pairs with a lower-energy, more localized existence built on the framework of dense, diverse urban population centers. The importance of kinship in human social systems diminishes gradually. Projected far enough out: Lineal descent is tracked solely through the direct relationship between mother and child; you do not share a family name with your grandparents or grandchildren. One's romantic and sexual relationships are not typically expected to outlast their natural lifespan; it's always nice when a couple finds themselves together after years or decades, but to pursue that as a goal would be seen as a strange, somewhat immature obsession or possibly an uncommon fetish. Despite this, social units and parent-child families are not isolated; the old saw "it takes a village to raise a child" is taken for granted, and your neighbors, friends and community members are likely to take a direct interest in your children's upbringing. Committed "mentor" and "caretaker" relationships are provided by means of various social institutions to those whose community ties haven't naturally offered up people willing to specifically dedicate to those roles.

Economic Weirdtopia: Bioregional commonwealths become the dominant world-system. This isn't a utopia; one's lifestyle, political and social opportunities become increasingly sharply-defined by where one lives, as do elements of culture and economic opportunity. Trade flows naturally across ecological and economic boundaries, and the existence of air and sea travel mean long-distance trade and travel remain viable, but globalization is a thing of the past, as is standardization. Life is very good in your little corner of the world as long as you fit there comfortably, but if you don't it's a long and difficult process to just relocate. It's not a simple matter of gathering your things and moving, after all -- your destination community needs to have room and someone to sponsor or support you during the transition to a very different way of life. International finance as we know it is dead in the water, but many forms of poverty and lack are a thing of the past. Cultural insularity is checked only to the degree that the citizens of a given Commonwealth engage with folks outside their milieu online.

Cognitive Weirdtopia: Standard cultural practice is to treat most forms of pedagogy or personal development like forms of budo (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bud%C5%8D#Civilian_vs._military). Early childhood education more closely resembles a freeform series of monastic-type practices guided by one's mentors; the emphasis is on the disciplined practice and refinement of whatever idea is being taught; understanding is the pupil's job. The less-pernicious aspects of self-help culture are seen as basic common sense; most people "know themselves" very well and by adulthood, are very skilled in several major disciplines (though "disciplines" spans the entire spectrum of human endeavor). Rationality is not inherently prized; it is more natural to most people to understand their failure modes and plan life around them rather than strive to change -- which is usually seen as a risky endeavour, less laudable when successful for the sheer inadvisability of teaching the average person to do so for it's own sake.